Be Unique
Angela Soudi

8 Common Restaurant Customer Complaints And Its Solutions

June 8, 2021

Head of Hospitality

Angela Soudi

Head of Hospitality

Article Overview

10min read

It’s a fact that if you are running a restaurant, then you may need to deal with the occasional restaurant customer complaints. Despite your best efforts, there’s no way to please everyone, and customer complaints are one of the common occurrences in the hospitality industry. Perhaps the most important factor contributing to the hospitality industry’s success is the experience and positive encounters enjoyed by customers of services offered in this industry. Moreover, excellent customer service is often the major differentiator between products and services, making it essential for organizations to have a strong and efficient servicing infrastructure. Recently, the demands for such encounters have become more distinguished with the ability of customers – be it local or foreign – to post online reviews for anyone to see in a matter of seconds anywhere in the world. Nearly 40% of customers express their dissatisfaction on social media platforms and review sites.

While customer complaints usually have negative connotations, they can be seen as a valuable source of feedback to improve your quality of service. Let’s check out the 8 common complaints you can expect to field and how to resolve them.

  • No cancellation refund: One of the common complaints raised by many customers is that they need to get a full refund if they cancel a booking. However, the validity of such a complaint will depend on your official policies.

For instance, If a customer has cancelled a booking right before check-in and raises a complaint about not receiving a refund, politely refer them to your cancellation policy. And in the future, to avoid such complaints, clearly illustrate the policy on your website’s booking page or that of a third party. If the booking is made via phone, make it a point to explain the same. If the customer escalates the issue, try to compromise, such as offering a discount on their next stay.

  • Long waits for services: Though a leisurely, well-paced dinner at a restaurant can be one of life’s true pleasures, delayed greetings, long waits for getting seated, drink orders, and food that takes forever to arrive can spoil the dining experience. These might turn your customers become irritated and they may take their complaints to social media.

Sometimes, services can be slow on nights, especially when a restaurant is understaffed. In such situations, all you can do is grin and bear it. As a part of hospitality training, apologize to your guests for the long delay, and have a manager touch each table to personally address the situation and offer a round of drinks or dessert in the house. However, if you notice any complaint reaching in on social media, respond with a note like this: “I’m so sorry about the delay tonight. We’d love for you to give us another try” You can offer a coupon for free cocktails or desserts during their next visit.

  • No free Wi-Fi: W-Fi has become a staple for the modern customer. If you offer it only in select locations of your establishment, let customers know. If you don’t offer Wi-Fi at all, have a list of nearby places that do have it and give it to customers.

Tip: Make a plan to offer Wi-Fi in all areas of your establishment. The upfront cost will be recovered in no time. How? Working groups frequent restaurants that have Wi-Fi while hotel guests are much likelier to return.

  • Extra charges: Customers are often charged extra for additional items they consume, but if this isn’t stated clearly, it can cause a misunderstanding. If the customer is still peeved and demands an explanation or a refund despite clear instructions, calmly and professionally point it out. If the total amount is negligible, you could consider waiving it.
  • Contaminated food: Foreign bodies in food are a real, and unfortunately, fairly frequent problem. The only way to minimize it is to conduct regular checks with storage and preparation of food. If a customer complains of contaminated food, express your apologies and offer a replacement at no cost. Emphasize that it won’t happen again – and try to make sure it doesn’t.
  • Unwelcoming reception: Your staff represents your brand, so it’s vital that they behave impeccably towards customers. Unfortunately, miscommunication can arise and cause friction. If this happens, listen to the customer’s complaint, let them know that you will investigate the matter – and do so. If the issue escalates, consider offering the customer compensation in a small discount or limited free drinks.
  • Website images not similar to real life: Not everyone realizes that images are typically representational. If a customer raises a complaint stating that an aspect of your restaurant design or establishment doesn’t look the same as in pictures, explain the reality. While many will accept the explanation, there will be some who intensify their protests. In this case, you could provide a free meal voucher or similar compensation. To prevent such complaints in the future, use a clear disclaimer stating that the images are for representational purposes only.
  • COVID-19 concerns and complaints: One of the current hot topics around the world COVID-19 pandemic also raises concerns and complaints in all industries, and the hospitality industry is not an exception.

We are very well aware that any perception of uncleanliness is unacceptable, especially given the heightened sensitivities around COVID-19. Having witnessed a deadly outbreak of a pandemic on an unparalleled magnitude in modern times has pushed us fundamentally to raise our hygiene and cleanliness standards. Therefore, when thinking of dining out or ordering in, the expectations on standards of a restaurant’s hygiene and cleanliness have also dramatically shot up, increasing uncertainty whether restaurants would live up to them or not. Such genuine concerns foster extreme scrutiny from customers, and it poses a challenge to restaurants. Though it’s a difficult situation to respond to repetitive COVID-related complaints and concerns, it also encourages them to adapt their business methods and models to this new state of normal.

While training and monitoring your staff, hire the best people- connect the public safety guidelines back to your brand mission and values. Ensure your restaurant relies on ensuring that the topmost safety methods are always used.

Tip: Work with your team to develop a pandemic-specific FAQ page on your website that answers top guest concerns.

We’re living in the digital age where reviews can be instantly shared to impact your brand’s reputation. The good news is that you can turn a complaint into an opportunity to reaffirm your commitment to great customer service – by properly handling it. 

Angela Soudi

Head of Hospitality

Angela Soudi is a visionary writer with 20+ years of experience in Sales and Marketing across Europe, Canada, and the Middle East. She is highly invested in actively contributing articles to pioneering hospitality platforms and websites.

Angela Soudi

Head of Hospitality
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