So, my mother and my husband think I should start a blog on how to complain effectively. I can’t imagine why! 😉 Possibly because over the past 6 months, I have complained numerous times and gotten a free meal (or two, or six) because of how I complain.
A lot of people think that complaining is just a way to get free food or items from the company you are dealing with. Although this is usually the outcome, it shouldn’t be the only reason you complain. It is a perk of knowing how to complain though! 😉
You should complain for reasons deeper than just getting things for free. I only ever complain (mostly to restaurants) when both hubby and I agree that the service or food left a lot to be desired.
Reasons to complain at a restaurant even if your company doesn’t always agree:
* There was a hair in your food.
* You felt forgotten (server didn’t come back to refill drinks, or at all except to deliver your food).
* Your food order is wrong, or you have undercooked meat.
* You got food poisoning after the fact.
The above are non-negotiables for me. And, you may wonder why I feel so comfortable complaining at a restaurant… well, because I have worked in catering for years and I have insider knowledge on how things are meant to be done.
Other rweasons I have complained to a restaurant:
* I was in a party of six and someone’s meal was forgotten.
* Someone hadn’t received their meal when the rest of the party was nearly finished eating.
* More pin bones in a piece of fish than I can count on one hand (that’s too many).
So, you had an issue with how your evening out was? How should you complain?
If you are in the restaurant and you can see your server, call them over and get it sorted right then. If your server is busy, or you haven’t seen them in a while, look for a supervisor or manager. They usually don’t wear the typical uniform — they usually dress smart, in trousers and a shirt or blouse. Walk to them and let them know what is going on. It is always best to let them rectify the situation at the time. In this case, you would probably get free drinks, money off your next visit or the meal in question taken off the bill if it’s a legitimate problem. Things to not complain about while in the restaurant are things like the service from your server, feeling forgotten, etc. Use common sense.
If you can’t complain while in the restaurant, either because you can’t find anyone or you feel you weren’t taken seriously or you got ill after-the-fact, the next effective way to complain is to write an email using the “Contact Us” field on the company website or to find the direct email address for the company. Usually, it’s something similar to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Formulating the email takes a bit of time because you don’t want to come across unprofessional or out to make a quick buck. Most companies respond well to constructive criticism. Let’s say you felt forgotten by your server. The most ineffective thing to do is to come across as a complete asshole, saying things like “Did you not train your staff?” Or “Your staff are lame.” Believe me, i’ve seen it done. And it gets you nowhere fast. The most effective way to complain and demonstrate that your server was not attentive is to provide lengths of time that you didn’t see them, or say things like, “She walked past our table on numerous occasions, but never stopped to ask if everything was okay or if we needed anything else.” These kinds of statements make it sound like you were noticing how often your server passed your table woithout stopping to check on you, thus, making you feel forgotten.
Tips for writing a complaint:
* If you feel you are waiting too long between courses, keep time. Anything over 15 minutes, unless the restaurant is super busy, is something that the manager will take issue with.
* If your server has not been back to check on you, keep a mental note of how many times (s)he passes your table.
* Keep track of how long it takes to be asked for drink refills.
* Make a mental note of your server’s name or description.
* See if your dining partner agrees that things are taking too long, and possibnly have them write a complaint too.
* Refrain from cursing or accusing them of improper training procedures.
* Expect to have to justify your complaint with further emails or phone calls.
* Always, always, always include information on how you can be contacted –via email and phone. Don’t provide your address unless asked — it proves they read your complaint and aren’t just trying to buy you off with free things.
* Be civil.
* Don’t write emails if you are angry. It only leads to complications and exaggerations of how the service actually was. If you are angry, wait a couple hours before drafting your email. In the meantime, write down pertinent information that you don’t want to forget!
* Keep records of who you talked to, incase you have to take it further. Keep copies of emails, both sent and received.
* Also, remember to include what your ideal solution to your complaint would be. (i.e. full refund, vouchers, to talk to the manager, etc.)
* Be honest.
The very last resort should be taking things to social media. Although this can speed things along, it can make you look desperate. But if you have tried everything else, then use social media to let others know that you have had a bad experience and that you have not been taken seriously.
Part II: How to complain effectively to a business that isn’t a restaurant… Coming Soon!