Article: “How To Make The Crabby Customer Into The Lifetime Satisfied Patron”


“Despite all of our best efforts, all restaurants face the occasional crabby customer. Regardless if the grouch is grouchy because of something we did (or didn’t do), the bottom line is that it’s our job to put them in a better mood. And most often, the whiner who can be won over will think your restaurant is a winner.

Practice responding to unhappy guests. Use real-life scenarios and role-play them with your staff. Start with the small and the mundane like “My food is cold.” That’s easy – you simply take the plate of food away and return hot food. Voila! You’re a superstar.

Move into the heavy stuff. Food is taking a long time or a table was forgotten. How do you make up for those things? Find out before you have to deal with it for real…”

source: “How To Make The Crabby Customer Into The Lifetime Satisfied Patron” by Susie Ross (The Restaurant Report)


Article: “Key to great service is avoiding the 12 fatal flaws” (Jul.2006)


“When plotting service strategy and delivery, too many operators, managers and trainers focus on what they should “do” for their guests. I think it’s just as instructive and illuminating to define first what not to do. In other words, do you know what you don’t know that you don’t know?

So let’s take a closer look at what not to do to the guest and examine the fatal flaws of service-giving as seen through the customer’s lens. Eliminate these service blunders, and you may no longer have the need to “teach” service at all, because your customers will have a consistent experience characterized by the absence of complaints…”

source: “Key to great service is avoiding the 12 fatal flaws” by Jim Sullivan (Nation’s Restaurant News, Jul.31,2006) [free registration req.]

Article: “Great Expectations” (Jun.2006)


“Gone are the days when formal etiquette—serve from the left, clear from the right—was set in stone. And diners can’t seem to agree on whether it’s polite to clear before everyone is finished (it’s not) or if it’s déclassé to mention the price of the specials (technically it is, but it’s awfully helpful when, say in truffle season, an entrée might top $40.) Today, especially at hip but casual bistros, good service has become a matter of taste.

Indeed, according to the latest Zagat survey, 76 percent of Boston diners cite bad service as the single most serious irritant when eating out. “The challenge is in engaging the diner at their level of expectation,” says Eastern Standard owner Garrett Harker, who faces the test of catering to an eclectic mix of hotel guests, foodies, and Red Sox fans. (He called my experience “bad judgment,” but not bad service.)

So here’s the question: In an industry with ever shifting mores—and, worse, ever-changing staffs—can you teach good service? Some restaurants certainly try…”

source: “Great Expectations” by Jane Black (Boston Magazine, Jun.2006)

Article: “The bad aftertaste of dining out” (Jun.2006)


“Calls continue to come in re garding customer concerns and complaints over common dining challenges. Challenge is polite lan guage for a whole parcel of often appal ling and outra geous situa tions.

Because there’s usually some measure of “he said, she said,” some of these calls and e-mails are edited. The concerns still stand – and so, I hope, do my observations.

Loud, noisy restaurants

Why do restaurant owners equate dining, both fine and moderate, with frenzied? We frequently feel as though we are sitting inside a steel drum that is being played on our heads…”

source: “The bad aftertaste of dining out” by Joe Crea (The Plain Dealer, Jun.28,2006)

Article: “Laptop Critics:Where the Web’s Foodies Dish” (Jun.2006)

"When Nell Ingerman recently discovered that her favorite neighborhood restaurant — a Mexican place in Manhattan called Baby Bo's Cantina — had boosted prices and swapped enchiladas for wild salmon, she was outraged. She planned to collect complaints and present them to the manager.

But she didn't have to. The restaurant's owner, Bo Quijano, emailed her and promised to bring the old menu back. He'd read a message she'd posted on a popular foodie Internet Web site called He even posted an apology, confessing that in a good-faith effort to improve the menu, "I simply got carried away."

To the chagrin of some restaurants and professional food critics, a lot of the most influential — and opinionated — advice on where to eat these days comes from Web sites and blogs…"

source: "Laptop Critics:Where the Web's Foodies Dish" by Steve Stecklow (Wall Street Journal, Jun.17,2006)

A Tale of Two Top 10 Lists about Restaurant Customer Service

Ten Commandments of Customer Service

Customer service is an integral part of our job and should not be seen as an extension of it. A company’s most vital asset is its customers. Without them, we would not and could not exist in business. When you satisfy your customers, they not only help you grow by continuing to do business with you, but recommend you to friends and associates.

source: "Ten Commandments of Customer Service" by Susan A. Friedmann (

The 10 Biggest Myths of “Customer Service"

"And if you pay enough attention, you start to see subtle patterns, trends and evolutions occurring in hospitality management theory and practice. And in case you haven’t noticed, a sea change of new behavior is in full swing right now. I’d like to outline and possibly debunk 10 customer service myths that used to hold water in our industry and now are losing value as operating principles."

source: "The 10 Biggest Myths of “Customer Service” by Jim Sullivan (, 2003) [.doc file]

Article: “The devil, and repeat business, is in the details” (May 2006)


"Time flew by, but unfortunately the server didn't. She overlooked the man's request when sidetracked in the kitchen helping the expediter assemble the food order for her adjacent eight-top. The man began craning his neck, looking for his missing-in-action server as time crawled by and the kids wolfed down their pizza and pasta.

…A food runner appeared, delivering an appetizer to another table. "'Scuse me?" the husband said. "Can I please get a side of salsa for my burger?" The food runner smiled, said "sure" and took off for the kitchen. But unfortunately the manager stopped the food runner midstride in the dining room and told him to give the expediter a hand–pronto.

…I'll see if I can get the manager's attention, he's headed this way," the exasperated husband muttered. The smiling manager was indeed strolling toward their section, but suddenly he caught sight of a basketball game on TV at the empty bar and veered off, engaging the bartender in a spirited conversation about the home team's playoff hopes."

…The devil is in the details, and so is customer loyalty and operational excellence. If you're consistently failing to execute the little things, don't be surprised if business slips, one "side" at a time.

source: "The devil, and repeat business, is in the details" by Jim Sullivan (Nation's Restaurant News, May 8,2006) [via]

WaiterBell Angle: The instances described above are examples of service gaps that occur during the guest's dining experience. Wireless signaling systems can help prevent a service gap from developing into lost business. Imagine how the above situation would have turned out differently if such a system was put into place.