Preventing and dealing with customer complaints

Unfortunately there are times when the customer feels things weren't quite as they should be. But as a service provider, the responsibility lies with yourself to ensure they are satisfied. We've taken a look through the thousands of reviews we've gathered over the years, and spoken to many of our takeaways and users to see what they felt we're the most common reasons customers aren't satisfied. Here's the top five reasons, and how they recommend preventing these issues in the first place.

Causes of unsatisfied customers

1. Incorrect food delivered

There's nothing more disappointing or annoying for a customer than waiting excitedly for their takeaway, then discovering it's not what they ordered. Now what do they do? Have something they might not like? Call and explain the problem, and wait for a replacement to be delivered?

Sometimes this is as simple as the customer expecting a side of chips to be included with their burger, sometimes they've received the completely wrong order. Either way, you now have an unsatisfied customer.

2. Late or cold delivery

This is pretty self explanatory, who likes sitting around hungry for hours waiting on food, only to find it needs re-heated when it finally arrives?

3. More expensive than they expected

This can be a serious issue for everyone involved, what happens if the delivery costs £35 but they expected it to be, and only have, £30? Do they need to negotiate with the person delivering which items they don't take? What if they only want all or nothing? What happens with it then, do you just write of the cost of the food and bin it?

4. Problems communicating

This problem most often affects foreign takeaways where the staff don't speak English as a primary language, or the menu isn't in English. For either the customer or staff pronouncing and understanding the more unusual street or dish names can be a real issue.

5. Rude and/or unhelpful staff

This can happen at any time when dealing with customer, but it is most annoying for customers when they're calling to complain about another issue they've had, and are either not given the change to explain, or are simply dismissed.

How to prevent these issues

Communication with the customer is everything

When your customer calls to place an order, there's only two times your staff will speak to them: when you take the order, and when you deliver their food. By the time it's delivered, if there's a problem, it's already too late, so making sure everything goes well when they place the order is paramount. Make sure the person who speaks to customers knows the menu well, knows the local area well, and speaks English well.

Confirm their order is correct
Make sure there's no room for misunderstanding. If they ask for Sweet and Sour Chicken, is that Hong Kong or Cantonese style? If they ordered a pizza, which base do they want? Does they're dish come with a side of chips, or rice, or nothing?

Can you provide what they've asked for
If you've run out of pineapple and they've asked for a ham and pineapple pizza, you're going to have to call them back and sort it out. Make sure the person taking the order knows exactly what isn't available when they're taking orders, so they can let the customers know immediately.

Is their address correct
I once worked as a delivery driver for a takeaway and was sent to "116 High Street", so that's where I went. Unfortunately, where I should have been was 116 High Street in the next town. By the time I'd called the customer and gone there, his delivery was getting cold. This problem shouldn't have happened; the person taking the order should have been clear about the address.

Confirm the price
Before you end the call with the customer, read through their order, their delivery address, and also the price. Make sure they know what they'll be expected to pay when their order is delivered. This is another reason to ensure the person speaking with the customer knows the menu well.

Give them all the information they need

In our blog Promote Your Takeaway we looked at the best ways to promote your takeaway, and ensure your menu is available to customers, this ensures your customers can decide on their order, know what it'll cost, and call to place their order with minimal hassle. Also, ensure the person taking the order can answer any question they might have about your menu. You can list your menu on our website for free by going to your listing page and clicking the link under the menu tab.

Be honest if you can't fulfil their order

If your so busy that it'll take an hour to deliver their order, tell them, and if they go somewhere else, that's fine. It might seem crazy to let customers go somewhere else, but it's much better than giving them terrible service. They'll appreciate your honesty and call again next time they're ordering a takeaway, but if you give them terrible service, they won't.

Dealing with complaints

The customer is always right

It's a cliché, and frankly the customer is often wrong. But, if they're phoning up to complain (perhaps they received exactly what they asked for, but not what they expected), the worst thing you can do it argue with them. Many of the reviews we receive are furious customers writing scathing accounts of calling a takeaway to discuss a problem, and being spoken to rudely and told quite bluntly that they're not interested.

Listen to the customer, let them know your sorry that they're not happy, and take the time to help sort things out. If they've made a mistake when placing their order, explain what's happened. If they expected a side of chips but didn't get one, let them know, but consider sending them a complimentary portion anyway. One portion of chips is a tiny price to pay to keep a customer happy, and could get you a fantastic review, instead of a terrible one.

Back to Top Last updated: 25th August 2013
Genre: Food & Drink