How to Handle Restaurant Customer Service Complaints
Restaurants, like most businesses, depend on customers to survive in any economic climate. Customer service has to be a priority from the wait staff to management. Customer satisfaction is paramount to repeat business and positive word of mouth.
Proper handling of customer service complaints can help your restaurant maintain good will and offer another chance at pleasing even the most discerning customers.
Provide Comment Forms
Many restaurants have comment forms posted clearly at the entrance or on each table. Customers may feel more comfortable providing feedback via these forms versus complaining at the moment of service.
Providing comment forms will ensure your customers have the ability to share vital information, both good and bad, concerning their experience.
Understand the Complaint
Complaints made at the time of service demand special handling. Active listening can ensure the complaint is understood.
Lack of active listening may lead to providing irrelevant or inappropriate solutions, further irritating the customer.
Acknowledge the Problem.
Customers want to know their complaint is taken seriously and will be addressed. Whether the problem is with the waiter or the kitchen, take responsibility for it. Restaurants depend on teamwork, so don’t pass the blame. Your fault or not, apologize and offer a solution.
Escalate if Necessary
If a complaint is made that you feel uncomfortable handling, escalate it to a manager or senior staff member. Restaurant policy should be followed concerning chain of command. The customer needs to know someone will immediately resolve the problem at hand.
If a complaint is made via a comment form, make sure to take care of any necessary behind the scenes discipline and training. If the customer returns, you don’t want them to encounter the same problem again.
Follow Up to Ensure the Complaint is Resolved
If you have offered to provide a free desert or free appetizer due to the inconvenience, follow through. Make sure you communicate your resolution to the appropriate staff. The customer shouldn’t have to remind the waiter to remove an item from the bill that was promised to be free.
Continued training and customer service policy development will help reduce customer service complaints.