Dealing with complaints

22 09 2006

When a customer complains in a restaurant, a few things can happen – and I’ve probably experienced most – from downright rudeness to ignoring you to taking an amount off the bill. Ultimately, the memory of the meal is overshadowed by how the complaint was dealt with; it also determines whether or not you’ll return to that establishment.

Today a group from work had lunch at The Olive Tree in West Perth to farewell one of the team who is moving on to another job. I ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad which was some $5 more than the regular Caesar. I expected about half a chicken breast’s worth of chicken on the salad. Some places give you more, but about half is usual. It took a while before I found my first piece of chicken (and this was NOT a large bowl), and it was about the size of teaspoon. Hmmm… So I started looking for more chicken and decided to count how many pieces I found as they seemed to be lacking in quantity. Five. Five lousy small cubes of chicken. And for that I was expected to pay an extra $5.

So I complained. Not loudly, not aggressively, but I complained to the waitress who came to take my chinaware. She said she’d get the manager (yeah, right!). But a few minutes later the manager arrived. I told her the situation, she apologised profusely, explained that there is usually a large amount of chicken in the Chicken Caesar, and asked what they could do to make up for this. Before I had a chance to reply, she offered a complimentary bottle of wine to the table, which we could either drink now or take away. Well, I don’t care where the wine comes from, there’s a pretty good chance it’s worth more than $5, so I took up her offer straight away… and scored a bottle of Margaret River red for next week’s Friday afternoon drinks at the office.

Would I go back again? Certainly! She handled the complaint with aplomb, with no hesitation or excuses. And ultimately that’s what a good experience – a good service – is all about.



One response

23 09 2006

That’s awesome. Very well handled.

Despite bad service we recently went back to Claim Jumper here in Redmond, hoping against hope we wouldn’t get the same Waiter.
Unfortunately we did. He must have been holding a grudge because he got someone else to cover him, we know this because she told us.
Probably not totally professional on her part, but she was fantastic, our faith in this restaurant has been fully restored.
Also, unlike our experience with the other guy where we tipped so minimally, she was given a large tip as befitting the experience.

Good service will always be remembered.

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