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How do you deal with customer complaints?

Can you learn from your own experiences as a complainant?

A few days ago I was in a pub restaurant and ordered a ‘farmers pie’ that looked delicious on the menu

It wasn’t.

Rubbery crust, containing wallpaper paste the colour of gravy and a distinct lack of meat.

Step one – a discussion with the manager whilst presenting the evidence.

Step two – an offer of a replacement meal

Step three – declined offer due to loss of trust in the food quality

Step four- the removal of the charge from the bill.

That’s it, all done and dusted! But was it?

Did they have any complaints management system?

No request for my name and address

No explanation of cause or promise of future explanation.

Did the manager tell the chef?

Did the chef tell head office?

Did head office find the cause?

Had they have even a vestige of a complaint tracking system?

Would they have a complaint investigation?

I thought I would try to contact the company through its web site but as soon as I typed the word ‘complaint ‘ on the contact form the page froze – three times.

Fortunately the fact that the pub was named after a long departed famous racehorse did not raise any suspicions that this had any link to the Horsegate incident, after all there seemed to be no meat at all in the pie.

Whatever the restaurants parent company does now, my goodwill has galloped away, and the stable door hangs loosely off its hinges.

Training staff in the right and wrong way to meet greet and serve customers is only half of a good training course for food service staff. Training them to correctly handle a complaint, record it and ensure the customer leaves with the intention of coming back is an often forgotten priority.

I tried to explain to the manager ‘Even in the best ordered systems things go wrong.  How you deal with complaints and put things right is the yardstick that will measure your company’s survival’

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