How to deal with restaurant customer complaints

September 19, 2023
min read

Customer complaints are a normal part of running a restaurant. No matter how hard you try, there will always be times when something goes wrong and a customer is not satisfied (and *cough* they’re not always right).

The way you handle these complaints can make a big difference in whether or not the customer returns to your restaurant in the future. Here are some tips on how to deal with restaurant customer complaints:

Stay calm and professional 

It can be difficult to stay calm when a customer is upset. If you get upset, it’ll escalate the situation, so take a deep breath and remind yourself that the customer is simply trying to have a good experience and everyone is going through stuff we’ll never fully understand.

Listen to the customer

Let the customer vent their frustration without interrupting them. Ask clarifying questions to make sure you fully understand the problem. Show the customer that you are taking their complaint seriously by listening attentively and taking notes.


Even if the complaint is not your fault, apologise to the customer on behalf of the restaurant. This shows that you care about their experience and that you are committed to making things right.

Offer a solution

Once you have a good understanding of the problem, offer a solution. This may involve replacing their food, giving them a discount, or comping their meal. Offer a solution that is fair and reasonable.

Follow up with the customer

After you have resolved the complaint, follow up to make sure they’re satisfied. This shows you care about their experience and you’re committed to making things right.

Specific types of customer complaints

  • Food complaints: Apologise and offer to replace it. If the customer is not satisfied with the replacement, offer to comp their meal or give them a discount.
  • Service complaints: Apologise and offer to make it up to them. This may involve refilling their drink, bringing them more bread, or giving them a free dessert.
  • Cleanliness complaints: Apologise and take immediate action to correct the problem. This may involve cleaning the restroom, cleaning the table, or bringing the customer a new set of silverware.

Here are some additional tips for dealing with restaurant customer complaints:

  • Empower your staff to handle complaints. Train your staff on how to handle customer complaints effectively. This includes teaching them how to listen to the customer, apologise, offer a solution, and follow up.
  • Have a system in place for tracking and managing complaints. This will help you to identify recurring problems and take steps to address them.
  • Use customer feedback to improve your restaurant. Pay attention to the trends in customer complaints and use this feedback to make improvements to your food, service, and cleanliness.
  • By following these tips, you can learn how to deal with restaurant customer complaints effectively and turn them into opportunities to improve your restaurant.

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