For anyone working in foodservice, customer complaints are a normal part of working life. When complaints are made online, you can make every effort to give a helpful yet carefully worded response.
For anyone working in foodservice, customer complaints are a normal part of working life. When complaints are made online, you can make every effort to give a helpful yet carefully worded response. Dealing with a dissatisfied customer in person can be trickier, especially for inexperienced staff. That’s why it’s important to know how to respond in a polite and respectful manner – which can be easier when you bear in mind the following points
· If you and your team always aim for excellent service, you’ll minimise the likelihood of complaints
Take a step back and think: why do customers complain? Unless they’re simply being unreasonable, it’s usually because they’re dissatisfied with aspects of your food or service. Ask yourself, what can you learn from customer complaints? By ensuring your staff are engaged and committed to delivering an excellent experience for your customers, you can eliminate much of the potential for dissatisfaction.
· Empathise with the customer – put yourself in their shoes
With the current staff shortages, everyone’s under pressure and mistakes can happen. When a customer’s unhappy about something, put yourself in their shoes, try to understand their perspective and get to the core of their concerns. How are they feeling: are they angry, unhappy, disappointed? Each is a different emotion, requiring a different response. What’s important is to take the time to listen to what they have to say, offer them a solution to help overcome their problem, and ask whether that solution is acceptable to them.
· Investigate the complaint before making redress
Some complaints won’t need further investigation (such as taking a long time to be seated on a busy night), but others – especially those complaining about an interaction with a staff member – will require you to understand the full story. Including staff in the resolution process also helps them learn from the experience – and encourages them to take steps to prevent it happening again.
· Aim to make their overall experience a positive one by making an honest attempt to solve the problem
Your solution to the problem should be focused on putting things right and creating an overall positive experience which encourages the customer to put their grievance behind them. Depending upon the seriousness of the complaint, offering a complimentary meal is often a good solution, as it allows you to demonstrate that their bad experience was a one-off that won’t be repeated.
If you can make customers feel genuinely heard and valued, they’re more willing to overlook mistakes – especially when you do whatever you can to rectify any that do occur. Always try to make sure the customer leaves happy – bearing in mind that when someone complains, often what’s most important to them is to have their point of view acknowledged.
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