Handling Customer Complaints like a PRO

Guess what….. You’re in the food service business and there are going to be times that your guests will want to talk with you regarding their negative experience in your building, the infamous “Guest Complaint”.


You have that critical moment in the outcome of this complaint to ultimately determine its path. It can go terribly wrong, or it can go really, really, really well. And so much depends on how it’s handled.

Some tips:

  1. EGO Check:
    Leave your ego back in the office, closet, somewhere and DO NOT take it with you when you go to resolve the issue. It doesn’t matter that you think the service, food, etc. was fantastic, because the guest’s perception is what matters.
  2. Remember:
    Remember the cost of not resolving the smallest complaint favorably. How many times have you been told that a negative experience is shared to 10 others without much effort? In today’s social media world, I would venture to say that 10 is more like THOUSANDS!!! YES THOUSANDS….
  3. Listen :
    I will tell you that listening is beyond most important to making the interaction go positive. I have taken the angriest, crazy, you name it situation and by simply listening to what they had to say, I was able to resolve the issue. If you approach the table without a smile nor get confrontational with them, you’re done. Remember, THOUSANDS will know about it possibly within the hour….
  4. WOW Factor:
    You need to WOW the guest with your resolution. I will promise you this, if you just “Comp” a tables dinner check for the evening, with an apology, the “standard manager resolution”, the chances are slim to zero that the guest will return to your restaurant. Think about it, you basically made them financially whole again, but did nothing to get them back to your restaurant as a future loyal customer. The WOW Factor – comp their meal, get them a certificate for the amount of that entire check, and invite them back on you the next time. Make sure they know who you are, and ask them to let you’d love to talk to then on their next visit. If you think that giving away two meals is more expensive than the damage that could be done by not doing so, you are thinking short term.
    You can gain the most loyal of customers by the WOW Factor if you use it. Taking care of bad situations, resolving the cause of the issue within your business as appropriate, and understanding the positive relationship that can be created by showing your listen and care should be your strategy at all times.

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