Dealing with customer complaints is never fun, and we as dedicated professionals naturally take service and quality issues very personally. While it’s great to enjoy a complaint-free stretch, customer problems are inevitable, and it’s very important to put all of them in the proper perspective.
Corporate catering customer complaints usually arise from the following:
- Driver was late
- Something was missing (plates, forks, etc.)
- Not enough food
Don’t Be Late
As I have mentioned previously, sometimes mediocre food delivered on-time is better than stellar food delivered late. Corporate caterers sell time, and we must do everything possible to deliver exactly when we say we are going to.
Most of the other issues above could be fixed by a sharp driver. During the final delivery check, the driver should make sure that the paper supplies are adequate; he or she should have a supply in the vehicle if they weren’t packed properly. If there isn’t enough salad, for example, or if the dessert tray is missing in action, the driver should know where the nearest grocery store is so he can solve the problem.
Even if you have an excellent driver that can solve issues before they grow into larger problems, you still will occasionally get “the call.” In my business, after our 35 or so orders were delivered, we would sit by the phone from 12:00 – 12:20 and hope it wouldn’t ring, because if it did, chances are someone wasn’t happy.
What Had Happened Was
One thing we learned early was that defending ourselves and explaining why the problem occurred were both useless. No one wanted to know that Joe locked his keys in the car and had to wait for his girlfriend to arrive with a spare set. Nor did anyone care that their cookies were at ABC Company and that’s why they got apple pie for dessert, even if apple pie was twice as expensive as cookies.
The Real Reason
Furthermore, we realized that sometimes it was just our turn. Maybe Mindy’s boss had yelled at her earlier in the day for something totally unrelated to the catered lunch that had arrived five minutes late. Regardless, Mindy was upset, and in her mind, she had a legitimate reason to let us have it. If you’ve ever been rude to the Sysco driver because he left your case of Italian dressing at the previous stop, you know what I am talking about.
After we fielded a customer complaint, we found that the best way to resolve the problem was to ask the injured party what they would like. In most situations, they requested a lot less than we would have offered. For some issues that I deemed serious, I was often willing to give the entire order away at no charge while the customer only wanted our acknowledgment that we had made an error and suggested that they be given a free dessert next time. That’s a big difference!
We’re Here to Help
Real-world catering experience and solutions are what we offer at The Corporate Caterer. You can contact us anytime!