Avoiding the Top 5 Customer Complaints in the Restaurant Industry

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Running a successful restaurant requires not only great food and drinks, but also excellent customer service. However, even the best restaurants can encounter issues that lead to customer complaints. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the top 5 complaints that restaurant owners should avoid at all costs to ensure a positive dining experience for their customers.

1. Slow Service

One of the most common complaints in restaurants is slow service. Customers want to be served promptly and efficiently—long wait times can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction. To avoid this, restaurant owners should make sure that their staff is properly trained and that the kitchen staff and servers are working together seamlessly. Additionally, having a well-organized system for taking orders and preparing food can speed up the process. One strategy to avoid slow service is clear communication between the servers and the kitchen. This ensures that orders are taken promptly and sent to the kitchen in a timely manner, reducing the chance of delays. 

Another strategy is a well-staffed restaurant, with enough servers and kitchen staff to handle the volume of customers. This ensures that orders are prepared and served quickly, without delays. Another important aspect of avoiding slow service is to have a well-organized seating system. This can include using a reservation system or a waitlist, which can reduce customer wait times. Additionally, restaurant owners can consider offering a “call ahead” service, where customers can call to place their order in advance, reducing their wait time at the restaurant. Furthermore, efficient table management can minimize delays by allowing servers to quickly turn tables over and seat new customers.

2. Inaccurate Check Calculation

Another common complaint is a wrong check amount. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including human error or technical issues with the point-of-sale system. To avoid mistakes, restaurant owners should train their staff in how to properly use the point-of-sale system. They should double-check the calculations before presenting the check to the customer and know how to handle any discrepancies that may occur. Additionally, it is important to have accurate and straightforward menu pricing to ensure that customers are not over- or undercharged for their meals. Clearly itemizing orders with  a computerized point-of-sale system will reduce human error and provide a clear record of the order for both the customer and the server. 

Another way to avoid check mistakes is to h include details on the menu about additional charges (taxes or gratuities) or credits (discounts or deals).  Easily understanding the cost breakdown—and being able to explain it to the customer—is essential.

3. Rude Behavior

Rude staff behavior is a major complaint that leads to negative reviews and lost business. Customers expect friendly and polite service—rudeness and lack of professionalism can ruin a meal. (Some customers may even walk out before ordering if they sense a bad attitude from their server.) This can include anything from a server being short with a customer to a chef being rude to staff. Staff  should be properly trained in customer service and be held accountable for their behavior. Clear rules about how employees should treat customers are paramount— owners must ensure they follow those rules through regular training and performance reviews. Additionally, regularly soliciting  customer feedback can help identify any issues with rude behavior and address them quickly.

4. Order Mix-up

Order mix-ups can be a major source of frustration for customers. They expect to receive exactly what they ordered, and mistakes lead to disappointment and dissatisfaction. Anything from getting the wrong dish to receiving a dish with ingredients the customer specifically asked to be left out can be a turnoff. To avoid this, restaurant owners should properly train servers to take,  place, and double-check orders before they are delivered to customers. 

This can be accomplished with  a digital ordering system that shows the customer's order precisely, or by having a staff member double-check orders before sending them to the kitchen. A policy for handling order mix-ups, like a free dish or a discount, can mitigate the customer’s frustration. 

5. Food Does Not Look as Expected

Lastly, customers expect the food they order to look just as it was described on the menu. If the food does not look as they expected, disappointment and dissatisfaction will result. A dish may not be plated as shown on the menu, or it may simply not be  as visually appealing as the customer had hoped. Owners must make sure that the food is prepared and presented as depicted,  and that the menu descriptions are accurate. Kitchen staff needs to be taught to plate food correctly, and the menu needs to show exactly what the customer can expect to receive. Requesting customer feedback via a comment card or online review can help identify any presentation issues and address them quickly.


By proactively avoiding these top 5 customer complaints, restaurant owners can ensure their customers have a good time. It also increases the likelihood of converting the customer into a “regular.” By paying attention to detail, providing excellent customer service, and keeping an eye out for potential issues, restaurant owners will enjoy  customers who are happy and satisfied with their dining experience.


Why should a restaurant use digital menus instead of paper Menu?

The digital menu accessible to clients via their own smartphone are updatable in real time from any phone or laptop. This allows restaurant for real time price changes or to temporarily hide product which are out of stock. It also allows to add in few seconds new selling product. Having a menu on the table at all time, saves time! The client does not need to wait the server/waiter to bring him the menu to start reading it. As a result, the table turnover increases as well, bringing in more sales revenues to the restaurant. 

Clients, can filter the food by allergens and exclude the items to which they are allergic to. Also, they are able to see the items in 8 languages and with pictures. This reduces the number of misunderstandings and increases their experience and satisfaction. 

Having our digital menu increase on line and social media presence on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TripAdvisor. They have the option to add those links at the bottom of the menu. The client can be redirect there, so that he has the possibility to rate, follow or like your restaurant. The more people interact on line, the higher the number of people coming (assuming your offering is also good).

Last but not least, owners are able to run promotion in certain time ranges. For instance, if you have raw materials close to expiration day, you can reduce their stocks by offering a product discount before having to dispose them at a full loss. Or in case you have a bar and would like to schedule regular happy hours/discounts between certain working hours. Discounts lead to an increase the number of guests and sales volume.

There are always people who will continue preferring the old-fashioned paper menu. Especially elderly ones. It is good practice to have a couple of paper courtesy menus available for them to read. They could be edited and printed daily.

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What is a KDS and why is it better than paper tickets?

KDS stands as Kitchen Display System. Essentially, all orders are displayed digitally on a screen instead of been printed on a paper ticket. One screen fits up to 10 tables in one single view. Having a KDS solves practical issues such as changing the paper roll during the busy kitchen period times. Most importantly it allows for the kitchen staff to coordinate delivery to a table across different department by using the “Synchronization” functionality so that all people at the table eat at the same time. Currently in most of the restaurant such coordination across department is done physically by a manager (running between departments) or radio channels. Another big advantage of a KDS is to flag when the food is ready. The waiters who called the items will receive a notification on their phone/work device and will know it is time to pick up the food and “Deliver” it to the client. Once food is delivered by the waiter, the table will move at the back of the queue to that the next table can be start to be prepared. The last advantage of KDS are their environmental footprint. A heat laser printer consumes more energy than the average LED screen. On top also many Kilometers of high-quality printing paper per year! Such a waste ☹. For a well aired kitchen, you can use also a google smart tv as a KDS! What are you waiting for doing the switch?

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