Tasha Lu on how to deal with customer complaints

Updated: 21 Oct 2016 | By:

Last week, a few friends and I went to a restaurant for lunch. There was kid's menu and we wanted to order from that because the portions are small and we didn't want to over eat before the afternoon workshop.

The waiter wasn’t sure if we could do that so he went and consulted his manager. He returned to tell us that it’s not possible and we had to order from the adult's menu. When we asked why, the waiter couldn’t answer us and just said he didn’t know, looking helpless. Now if you were the waiter, given some training, you’d be able to deal with customers with whatever request, even if you don’t know the answer. (Answer to this waiter's situation is at the bottom of the page.)

Tasha gave us some tips on how to deal with customers who give you even the most difficult questions. Just a few tricks and you'll look to your customers the smartest bartender!

[Read on: Tasha Lu's tip on how to make top notch cocktails]

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Through observations, Tasha feels that the Asian culture defies confrontation. Therefore many bartenders don’t stand up to the customers and hence create a lack of respect for the profession. Training to up your knowledge will not only help bartenders grow in your career but also confidence. This is especially important as to add pride in what you do. Learn also how to work with your teammates, that way you can help each other during difficult situations.

Tasha’s tips
1) Approach customers when there is a complaint and try this: “I’m so sorry that happens, let me fix it for you.”
2) Don’t hide in a corner and try to avoid which is only going to make things worse.
3) When you have knowledge, it makes you confident. But sometimes there is something you don’t know and that is OK. Be honest and say, “You know what, I don’t know about this, let me ask someone else.”
4) Nowadays, it’s a poor excuse to not have an answer to any question. You need to be resourceful so even if you don’t know, someone else do. Ask your teammates.
5) Or if none of your teammates know, Google it!
6) If all things fail, ask Tash!

Here are two case studies as reference:

Case study 1
Customer: "Do you have xxx brand gin?"

And you don't. Tell the customer this, “There is a gin you may like. Give it a try and if you don’t like it, I’ll make you something else.”

"This always works for me," says Tasha.

Case study 2
Some customers who are more knowledgeable might pose some difficult questions to bartenders.

Customer: "Why is my martini not in a martini glass?"

And you only have coupe glasses, which is the closest thing to a martini glass in your bar.

“This is a coupe glass, which is an appropriate glassware for a Martini. Although the martini glass is named after the drink itself but before martini glass was invented, there were only coupes and cocktails were served in coupes. We only have the coupe in the bar now and that is the closest glassware to a martini glass. Think of it as a contemporary Martini!”

Stay confident and because you know you are right, your posture will tell it.

We can't agree more, Tash!

Answer to the waiter who can't serve items in the kid's menu to adult customer: Restaurants generally have kid's menu to cater the need for customers who are parents. They are a considerate part of the service and normally is just a way to get families to come through the door. So when they do, the parents can pay lower price for their kids and full price for their own meals. If all customers were to order from the kid's menu, then restaurant is not going to make any money. That's why if you are an adult and get shut down from trying to order from kid's menu, especially in a sit down restaurant, this is why.