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Comping as Appeasement: The Science of Giving Stuff Away

Every venue has to give things away to make things right from time to time, here are the rules of when and how to do it
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It is no secret that comps are one of the service industry’s primary tools for appeasing disgruntled customers. In most cases this allows operators to maintain patronage in the face of services lapses, and to do so using product that costs the venue only a fraction of what it is worth to the guest.

But while both useful and necessary in certain situations, comping can be a slippery slope. Use the following guidelines to make sure your comps are executed correctly and in the right situations.

The Big Picture

Always look at appeasement comps in the greater context of building a customer base. A 40$ round of drinks really only costs the venue about 8$, which is more than worth it to maintain rapport with a group of customers.

Fault Size = Comp Size

The more the house is at fault, the more greater the appeasement, with the exact amount varying in direct relation to how significantly the customers’ experience was affected.

More is Better ...

Always err on the side of too much rather than too little. This not to be a pushover, but because the cost of a relatively significant comp over a modest comp is practically non-existent, while drastically increasing , your chances of salvaging the situation. The worst situation is obviously to give away product and have the situation remain unresolved.

... but not Too Much

There is a limit to the above principle, as there is such a thing as too much. In fact, going overboard can not only set unrealistic expectations, but also send a weird message to the guests, leaving them uncomfortable and defeating the purpose of the comp all together.

Speed is of the Essence

Comps should be delivered quickly and decisively. This will go much further in salvaging the guest's experience by quelling further spite before it has a chance to develop. The situation gets worse every second that goes by, and appeasements delivered late does little to help the situation.

Make no mistake, they will still accept the comp ... they just won’t come back.

Don't be Intimidated

Never let the demeanor of the customer dictate what, or if, you comp anything for them. Many people try to intimidate others into getting what they want, catering to them sends the wrong message. You know when you should comp and when you shouldn’t, so stick to your guns.

Don't Weasel Out of It

The flipside of the above point is to never avoid a comp just because the customer is amicable. Remember the cost of comps are negligible if done correctly, so don’t punish customers for being understanding. This is also true because some people are just less conflict oriented, and while they may remain calm and friendly, it does not mean they will return as customers. Again, you know when you should comp and when you shouldn't, stick to your guns.

Comps are Opportunities

The silver lining of service mistakes is that they provide an opportunity to show customers that you care about their experience. In fact, when resolved correctly these situations can often result in an experience that is even better than if no mistake was made in the first place.

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