The contribution of the eating-out-of-home sector to the overall food spending of Hungarian households is very low, especially when compared to other, well developed countries. In order to increase this market – besides the improvement of the elements of macro- and micro-environment – a significant task is to strengthen and improve the consumer satisfaction and loyalty. Consumer satisfaction/dissatisfaction is a complex system whose key element is complaint handling. The research team conducted a questionnaire survey in the spring of 2014 in Hungary (Central Hungary and Northern Great Plain regions) with a sample of 1063 respondents of the age group 15+ years. In the survey, the research models and findings of former international research projects were taken into consideration. Our research results are in compliance with the international research results and trends, although differences may be found in the numbers and extent of the Hungarian results. In the Hungarian eating-out-of-home sector, the desired service quality of the consumers exceeds the detected quality of services particularly in the key areas. Despite the frequent consumer dissatisfaction, the documented forms of dissatisfaction, which could be recognized directly by the management (e.g. direct complaints towards the staff, registered opinion on the claims book), are very low. Guests prefer to use the indirect channels of complaint (for example choosing other restaurant, negative word of mouth, or reducing tips), which will result in that the specific reasons of complaints could not be recognized by management of the restaurant. The exploration and registration of the original problems are the main prerequisites of the successful improvement of consumer satisfaction, therefore establishing an active complaint management system should be a key task for the restaurants.
The Hungarian Journal of Nutrition Marketing. 2016. 3 (2) 3-18.