We’ve taken the best and most popular of your suggestions and used them to compile the CheapEats Customer Service Charter. We hope it will be a handy guide when you’re eating out. We also hope that it will be useful for restaurants: it was compiled entirely by readers so we think it’s a good reflection of diners expect – and deserve – when eating out.
Let us know what you think of the Charter. Too harsh? Any startling omissions?
Jennifer, commenter number 18, wins a €35 GBK voucher for submitting the most original suggestions. Congratulations Jennifer, we’ll be in touch to let you know how to claim your prize.
We’ll announce the other three winners of our competition later today.
CheapEats Customer Service Charter
1. On arrival:
A friendly greeting, and a maitre’d or host to welcome you. If there’s going to a wait for a table, tell the customers; don’t leave them standing and wondering if they’re supposed to seat themselves.
2. Tap water:
A jug of tap water supplied upon arrival, and filled up regularly without the need to ask; jealously guarding your tiny glass of water because you’ll have to keep calling waiting staff overshadows a meal.
Problem with the order or trouble in the kitchen? Let the customer know; it’s terrible to be kept waiting indefinitely. If something is off the menu, let the customer know long before they order.
4. Know the Menu:
Waiting staff should know the menu and what it contains, especially in relation to allergens (in particular: dairy, flour, and nuts). Be able to recommend a dish and sides that go with it.
· Never leave a customer more than 5 minutes with a menu without checking they are ready to order.
· Check in early on in the meal, so if the diner needs anything, ketchup, black pepper, or more drinks, they won’t have to wait to catch your attention.
· Don’t avoid the customer! When they have been served, waiting staff should be prepared to keep eye contact with them and not look as if they are trying to avoid being asked for anything such as more water or black pepper.
· Be on the ball to know when the customer is finished and ready to leave or order coffee/ dessert. Don’t leave a customer waiting more than three minutes when they order the bill, particularly at lunchtime.
6. Mistakes with orders:
Perhaps the most common problem. If they mess up your order then you are entitled to send it back and have it replaced with the food you ordered. When you order you are entering into a contract – to pay for what you ordered. So, if it is wrong then all bets are off – the contract is not completed until the matter is resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. For small parties, take the food back so everyone can eat together, and offer a reduction or complimentary dessert/ coffee by means of compensation.
· Have an established procedure for dealing with customer complaints and train in your staff on it accordingly.
· Have a set person or persons who deal with the complaints to ensure an understanding and civil reception for any complaint as well as to ensure each complaint is dealt with in the pre-established manner.
· Restaurants may even consider stating their complaints procedure on the menu.
· Staff should be understanding not defensive. Accept responsibility for errors, particularly errors with orders, and offer to make amends – reducing the bill or even offering a complimentary drink can go a long way.
8. Doggie bags:
Reduce food waste – a win-win for the customer and the restaurant – and offer customers the chance to bring their leftovers home.
And a special suggestion from Jennifer…
Computers these days make it easy enough to set up a customer database. It’s worth maintaing – it can tell servers if the customer is a returning one and also alert them to any previous complaints made by the customer so the same mistakes can be avoided.
It’s nice to be recognised as a regular customer and it can useful to the restaurant to see any patterns in complaints.