If you’re in the restaurant business, you’ve likely had experience with customers complaining about waiters and waitresses. Most servers try their best to do a good job, but customer complaints might be justified if the wait staff is rude, does a poor job serving or is overly chummy or casual. Not all familiar complaints about waiters and waitresses are prompted by their own behavior, however. As the face of the restaurant to the customer, the wait staff might also be on the receiving end of complaints about things outside their control, such as poorly prepared food or lengthy waits for orders to arrive.
You know the type: lousy attitude, totally disinterested in her customers and rude to boot. She tosses the menus on the table, forgets their water and doesn’t even look at them when she talks to them. When customers repeat a request, as they inevitably have to do, she rolls her eyes and gets exasperated, clearly conveying that she thinks they’re being unreasonable and getting on her last nerve. In this case, customers are justified in bringing their complaints to you, as the manager. Your personal attention is important to salvage the situation with the customer, and you need to deal with the problem server as well.
Complaints often result from a waiter providing poor service. He can’t remember who ordered the tea and who ordered the soda … and there are only two people at the table. He consistently forgets to bring the ketchup or extra napkins customers requested. He spills water when refilling their glasses or deposits their orders on the table so quickly that some food slides off the plate. Or they have to wait forever for him to take their orders or bring their food. You may get complaints from both parties in such cases — the customer because of the lousy service, and the waiter because he’s angry about the lousy tip he got.
Not getting what was ordered is a common cause for restaurant complaints. This may or may not be the waitress’s fault, so try to determine how the mix-up occurred so you can address the customer’s concerns properly. If she wrote the order down incorrectly or grabbed the wrong plates from the kitchen, then yes, the customer’s complaint is rightly directed at her. But it’s possible the kitchen mixed up the order or failed to prepare the food as requested, even when she submitted the order correctly. Such complaints might be mitigated if the waitress takes prompt measures to rectify the problem or if she takes the initiative to bring the problem to your attention.
Whether you run the local cafe or a swanky restaurant downtown, the one thing most customers want when eating out is good food. It should be food that looks and tastes good and that is prepared correctly. Food presented in an unappetizing way can be a turnoff, but food that tastes bad is worse. The waiter probably had nothing to do with the problem, but he’s still going to get the brunt of the customer’s dissatisfaction. How the waiter, and you, respond to the customer in this situation will determine whether he ever comes back and how he talks about his experience with his friends.
Source: Molly Thompson for smallbusiness.chron.com