Customer complaint following an event

Joined Jun 25, 2015
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.


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Joined Oct 5, 2001
My personal thought is the owner should also offer some kind of restitution for the mistakes. It is a token of good will and I makes all the difference between keeping a customer for life and just having them for one visit. Here are a few other discussions from the community on a similar topic:
[thread="78446"]How To Respond To False Customer Reviews  [/thread][thread="63767"]Most Ridiculous Complaint That Youve Heard Recently  [/thread][thread="54668"]Ridiculous Customer Complaints  [/thread]
Joined Jun 27, 2012
I agree with nicko 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.

Joined Oct 31, 2012
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. 
Joined Jan 31, 2012
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'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.
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
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.
Joined Jun 14, 2013
Wow, Great to have a customer like that-----

Learn from this one and your business will improve----and thank them.
Joined Jul 1, 2015
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....
Joined Jun 25, 2015
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,
Joined Jul 5, 2015
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!!!!
Joined Jun 16, 2015

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

Joined Dec 18, 2010
I knew about the concept and see it done too often... And learned a new word. I'll not forget that!
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