Do your staff know how to handle complaints?

All restaurants get complaints, no matter how wonderful they are. So the issue really isn’t how to avoid getting complaints, but rather what to do when they happen.

Wait staff should never clear a table with an untouched dish without asking if there is a problem.

One strategy is the BLAST approach …

Believe. Believe what the customer is saying. Do not argue or get defensive. You do not need to always agree with the customer, but you should always accept that their experience is real for them.

Listen. Let them talk and fully explain what went wrong. Be empathetic. Often times just letting the customer vent for a minute will help defuse a situation.

Apologise. Being sorry goes a long way to fixing any problem. Be honest. If you have dropped the ball, admit it.

Satisfy. Make it right. Bring them a new dish. Give them a free dessert or a beverage, or both. Make them happy. And be fast about it. Step up when you first hear the complaint. Don’t avoid it because you don’t want a confrontation. You want the customer to be angry for as short a time as possible.

Thank. Thank them for coming. Ask them to come back. Tell them that you are delighted they are your customer. Make them want to return and have a positive experience.

If you follow the BLAST approach, you will satisfy the overwhelming majority of customers.

But accept that occasionally, a customer is just going to be mad. If you have made every attempt to fix the problem, and the customer is still angry, move on and try to do better next time.

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