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Three Customer Service Challenges and How to Respond

by Warrick Steabben on April 23, 2014

What sets a place apart is often the service. Whether behind a counter or a bar or at a table, the old adage “the customer is always right” is not always right, but it still rings true. For your learning pleasure, here is the ‘This isn’t what I ordered!’ trilogy. Here are a few tips below and check out more advice for bartenders here.

1. ‘This isn’t what I ordered!’ — Prevention

This may seem obvious, but so many problems can arise from not hearing the customer. Guests don’t always know what they want and as the server, it’s your job to guide them. Take the time to identify a customer’s needs. Read between the lines and suggest ways to modify the order, if the kitchen allows it. Write down orders. This may seems tedious, but it gives you a point of reference once you walk away. After you write down an order, repeat back every detail to the customer. Again, this is tedious, but it will ensure accuracy. To make sure an order is taken correctly, listen, write and repeat.

2. ‘This isn’t what I ordered!’ — Accidents happen

You listened, wrote and repeated and somehow, it’s still wrong. Maybe something was lost in translation and it wasn’t really your fault, but since you’re the one serving the customer, it’s always your fault. The first thing to do here is reflect the tone the customer has. If they’re very upset, you need to take that seriously. If they’re smiling, you still need to take it seriously. Apologise to the person complaining and acknowledge their problem. If you can, explain why the error occurred and apologise again. Make it right by removing the erroneous item and offering to replace it with the correct version. Then, replace it. Almost nine times out of ten, apologies and quick replacement will stop the problem from escalating. Upon receipt of replacement, follow up about two minutes later and apologise again.

3. ‘This isn’t what I ordered!’ — Zen tangle

Escalation happens and sometimes things get out of control. Chain of command is just as important in the service industry as it is in the military. Be sure to know who’s the boss in any given situation. If you are the server, then you are the customer’s guide, and maintaining control is a big part of their experience. You must do your best to respond to the customer’s emotions, but not in kind. If you feel control slipping away at any time, alert your manager. Don’t be afraid to let a manager know that something is wrong. They are there to help and can take charge of a situation and correct it in ways you may not be authorised to.

Customer Service Challengers for Bartenders
Customer Service Challengers for Bartenders

When learning a skill, you start with fundamentals. At RSA Melbourne, we’ll teach you the basics and let you in on the secrets of the service industry. So, even if something goes wrong, you’ll know how to put things right with the customer and maintain your employer’s good reputation.