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Expert Eye: Tiffany Irvin, The Fish Works, Largs, Ayrshire 

Home » Interviews » Expert Eye: Tiffany Irvin, The Fish Works, Largs, Ayrshire 
The Fish Works, Largs

As the cost-of-living crisis continues, the number of customers complaining about prices has risen, however, Tiffany is learning to filter out the less genuine ones

We have noticed recently we are getting more customers being difficult. They are not complaining about the quality of our food, but the price. Where we’ve had to increase our prices in line with inflation, people’s expectations have also increased.

In response, we’ve had regular team meetings about how we can improve what we’ve already built to try and make the experience better so that customers feel like they are getting more for their money. It’s not easy because I feel we already go above and beyond in terms of customer service.

I’ve also focused a lot on the mental health of my team because it can take a toll on our staff too. We’re expecting our team to come in every day and be dead cheery when they might not always be feeling that way. So I’ve put a box in the shop where staff can pop in a note with any issues they are having. The box is locked and only I have the key, but every day I’ll take a look and it’s been really good for us to identify things that are going on in our staff’s lives that we weren’t aware of. On some occasions, it’s just a case of being aware of something, but on others we’ve been able to physically help, and that’s made a huge difference to the performance of the team.

One of the team recently said we are so busy in the summer, could we not make the shifts shorter and employ a few extra people? I just assumed the staff would want the hours in the summer to make up for the quieter winter, but they wanted to spread the load a bit. So we’ve found out a few things and from there we’ve been able to make the business run more efficiently. 

As well as focusing on your team’s mental health, it’s also important as a business owner to remember your own mental health. I learnt this recently when we had a complaint from a customer via TripAdvisor who felt what she had bought was too expensive. But she didn’t stop there, she started trolling us on every platform going, she was even commenting on every post we put on Facebook. I’d be out with my children and my social media would blow up. It was a lot to take. 

I had to eventually stop replying as it was draining, and now we’ve made the decision that we need to look at complaints and filter out the genuine ones – the ones we can use as constructive criticism to build on our staff development and training and amend the customer experience by going back to the customer – and set aside the people who don’t have a genuine complaint or go out of their way to troll a family business.

We know we don’t always get it right, but on those occasions we will acknowledge it, we will apologise, explain what went wrong (as there’s usually a reason) and either offer a voucher or a refund. But the ones that go above and beyond and taunt us on social media I’ve had to learn to ignore. 

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