Customer complaint following an event

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by jerusalem, Jun 25, 2015.

  1. jerusalem

    jerusalem

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Sous Chef
    My company just completed an event several days ago and received a particularly long email about the problems with the event and the food.

    The complaints focused on various technical issues that happen when the catering staff make salads, they didn't think certain dishes tasted very good, the setup of the hall, etc.. They had some good things to say. More than anything it was written as a review, i.e. this was what we liked and this is what we didn't. I more than agree with everything they wrote.

    In the end of the complaint they did not ask for a rebate, a discount in the future, nothing, just that when they use us in the future they would like these problems to not occur again.

    Have people ever dealt with a complaint such as this? Should the sales person just apologize or offer something?

    Thanks for any input.
     
    nicko likes this.
  2. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,106
    Likes Received:
    188
    Exp:
    Former Chef
  3. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

    Messages:
    4,470
    Likes Received:
    416
    Exp:
    Retired Hospitality
    I agree with @Nicko
    If a refund was offered but declined by the client send some little something anyway.
    A big fruit basket with a pretty bow or a cookie tray are always nice.
    Tickets to the theater or a sports event if you know the owner is into that sort of thing.
    Be sure to include a note thanking them for their patronage.
    I wouldn't apologize or mention the problems just a big thanks.

    mimi
     
  4. chefwriter

    chefwriter

    Messages:
    1,840
    Likes Received:
    396
    Exp:
    Professional Cook
    What a great response from a customer. First, someone, be it the sales manager or owner but someone in authority should write a formal thank you letter for such honest feedback. Including theatre tickets or a nice gift basket is a nice touch.  I can't say whether restitution should be made for particular mistakes as you didn't describe any but from your post, I'd say if they aren't asking, just take the review to heart. And let them know in the letter that you are doing so. 

         From what you posted, that's the kind of feedback every good place hopes to get. They weren't looking for anything and stated they will use you again. They just want you to be aware, as you should be. If no one tells you, how are you supposed to know? And why can't someone tell you without asking for something in return? These people did just that. 

     I suspect they probably paid the bill without delay. 

         I'm sure your staff will be reviewing all the appropriate commentary to insure those issues are taken care of from here on out, no matter who the customer may be. 

         I once received a letter of complaint, unsigned, no return address, nothing said while the customer was in the restaurant. Pretty useless. 
     
    fablesable and mikeswoods like this.
  5. brianshaw

    brianshaw

    Messages:
    3,139
    Likes Received:
    369
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    Could be a case of constructive criticism more than a complaint. Thank them and seriously consider implementing changes that my apply.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
    flipflopgirl and mikeswoods like this.
  6. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

    Messages:
    1,390
    Likes Received:
    204
    Exp:
    Sous Chef, Event Manager
    I'm pretty much in agreement with this.  (yeah  because Chefwriter beat me to it) /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif  

    If this were my gig I would definitely send them a letter thanking them for the honest feedback and

    mention their continued value as a customer.

    However as compensation I would not (personally) offer anything .....extra-caterly.... that is, outside

    the context of the business, like tickets, wal-mart gift certificates, dinner for two at Razzanini's, etc.

    I would inform them I intend to give them a __% or __dollar discount on their next event, as a thank- 

    you for both the effort they expended in their feedback, and their lack of 100% satisfaction.

    (A free item not normally included, like a dessert item or appetizer can work well too.) 

    And though you weren't really specific with what they said, you did mention food taste--I would ask

    them to elaborate on which dishes and what was wrong or lacking, as a taste problem can be easily fixed. 

    (well hopefully by MOST of us /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif) This open dialog might also be a good time to let them know of any

    incentives you may have for any referrals they turn your way that result  in booked business. 

    This overall approach has multiple benefits, one of which is to sway them to use you on an upcoming

    event for which they may have more than one caterer in mind, or even considering doing it themselves

    to save money.Getting that timely discount can make all the difference.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
  7. panini

    panini

    Messages:
    5,168
    Likes Received:
    283
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    I certainly think the critique requires a response. I would put in writing the actions and resolutions for the technical issues. Taste is subjective, not everyone is going to like the taste or flavor of something. I would make available an opening for the author to attend any pre function tastings in the future. I agree with others, a token siree (outside the realm of food) might be appropriate.
     
    flipflopgirl and fablesable like this.
  8. mikeswoods

    mikeswoods

    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    Wow, Great to have a customer like that-----

    Learn from this one and your business will improve----and thank them.
     
  9. chefaran

    chefaran

    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Private Chef
    nothing says lets bury the hatchet like a huge basket of muffins w/ compound butters, fresh bread or cookies or pastry...........I would try and show a sign of good faith that you've listened to what they've had to say and that you're remorseful for their experience, shows great character on your and your companies part too....
     
  10. jerusalem

    jerusalem

    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Sous Chef
    Thanks everybody for the suggestions - I realize that the issues he raised are in the form of constructive criticism. I wanted a few ideas on what to give him, be it a thank you note, gift, or discount in the future,
     
  11. chef oddball

    chef oddball

    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I agree with the others that you should take the "review" to heart and dissect what it says. I share all reviews good & bad with my staff and we will then see what needs to be changed. If they will not accept a rebate/refund, and they will re-book then make a note. The next time they are in if they order 2 specialty salads give them 3 as a token of acknowledging what they said. Display the food differently on the buffet, change something so that they will know that you listened to what they said. If it's a service issue, next time ensure there are more servers in the room, or extra kitchen staff looking after the buffet, and answering allergy questions as well!!!!
     
  12. joe banneke

    joe banneke

    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    Hello,

    have you rever heard about a "Rosstäuscher" ("horse swindler")? That's a person who tries to get a horse for little money by complaining you that your horse had all kinds of hitherto unrecogni(z/s)ed health issues.

    German holiday makers have a worldwide reputation for creating the most preposterous lists of alleged faults.

    There is one main reason for that: They try everything to get a retroactive discount! Complaining means re-negotiations.

    If you are sure you did everything right you have to feel out whether that's the case here. If the customer tries to blackmail you by threatening to spoil your reputation that's a ...  yes.

    On the other hand if customers complain it might also mean they are looking for excuses for their own behaviour. I remember a German lady who at a party drank a lot of alcohol (of all sorts) and when she eventually threw up she pretended the fish had been unsound.../img/vbsmilies/smilies/laser.gif

    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/chef.gif  
     
  13. brianshaw

    brianshaw

    Messages:
    3,139
    Likes Received:
    369
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    I knew about the concept and see it done too often... And learned a new word. I'll not forget that!