How to Respond to Restaurant Complaint Letters

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Regardless of how well your restaurant is run, there may come a time when you encounter customer complaint letters about the quality of your food or the kind of service you provide. While it may feel like a personal attack, it’s important to take the emotion out of it and respond to the customer calmly so you provide courteous and professional service and salvage your customer relationship. Respond to your customer complaint letter right away to show your clientele that you value their opinions.

Write Your Restaurant Complaint Letter Response Immediately

Timing is critical when dealing with complaint letters. If you receive a customer service complaint letter or foreign object in food complaint letter, it’s important to send your response to the customer right away so he knows you’re taking the matter seriously.

If you receive a negative review online on sites such as Google, Yelp or TripAdvisor, take the same approach and post your response as quickly as possible so your customer knows you’re paying attention to the issue. With public posts, this also shows other customers how professionally you deal with complaints.

Apologize to the Customer

Your first step in your restaurant complaint letter response should be to acknowledge the problem and apologize for your mistake. As the old customer service adage goes, the customer is always right. Even if you feel your food quality or service wasn’t poor, it’s important to let the customer feel heard.

Apologize for her negative experience. For example, you could say, “I profusely apologize for the poor service you received at my coffee shop last Thursday. I am taking the matter seriously and will be discussing this issue with each employee in person.”

Don’t Be Defensive

Avoid using your response letter as a way to get defensive about your restaurant. Don’t attack the customer for his choices or his experience. This is unprofessional and builds distrust and animosity. If you’re trying to keep a customer, this approach will not be successful.

For example, don’t say something like, “You shouldn’t have finished the sandwich if you didn’t like the first few bites. We would have made you a new one if you hadn’t eaten the whole meal.”

Learn the Facts

Do your best to investigate the situation. If the customer is complaining about her food, be sure to confirm exactly what she ordered by asking her and looking through receipts if possible. If the customer is complaining about service, check the schedule or time cards to make sure you know which employees were working at that time. It’s always best to have all the pertinent facts in case the issue is escalated into a legal one.

Right the Wrong

Offer a solution for the customer based on the complaint. This shows customers that you take their complaints seriously and want to preserve your relationship with them. When dealing with food poisoning complaints, rely on your food poisoning contingency plan and check your ingredients to ensure it won’t happen again. Offer your customer a free or discounted meal the next time he visits or refund his meal depending on his complaint.

Sample Restaurant Complaint Letter Response

Dear Mr. Robertson,

I’m terribly sorry to hear you had a negative experience at our bistro on Wednesday and received an apple pie that didn’t meet your expectations. We strive to provide only the best-quality food to our valuable customers.

Your feedback is vital to our success, and we will be using this as a learning experience to improve our dessert menu. I’ve already spoken to our chefs about this, and we’ll be adjusting the recipe.

To make up for your negative experience, I’d like to offer you two free desserts the next time you visit. Please see the gift card enclosed. I hope we’ll see you again soon.

Best regards,

Jane Aaron
Owner, Jane’s Bistro

References

About the Author

Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.

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