Most companies cite good customer service as one of the key reasons behind their continuing success. The customer may be awkward, demanding or even downright rude – but as the saying goes, they’re always right.

One of the most difficult set of customers to keep happy is a group of people visiting a restaurant. To start with, they may have issues you don’t know about before they even sit down at the table. Anyone who has worked in a pub, restaurant, bar, takeaway or hotel (and I count myself among this number), will at some point have been on the receiving end of someone else’s bad day.

Picture this table of four. Jan is feeling guilty because she’s supposed to be on a diet and Paul is still fuming about the Range Rover that cut him up at the junction on the way to the restaurant. Gina has had the worst day ever at work and Luke wanted to get a takeaway. Pity the poor waiter or waitress dealing with this lot!

Staff training is an important part of ensuring that customers get the best service so they’ll come back and recommend the venue to their friends and family. But on those occasions when you’re the customer, don’t forget that the person patiently repeating the specials to your dining companion for the third time is earning somewhere around the minimum wage, has been on their feet for hours and will probably end their evening scraping someone else’s leftovers into a bin.

Of course, every part of the food and drink industry relies on keeping customers happy, whether they are ordering machinery, packaging or ingredients, or dealing with deliveries. For the supply chain to work, it needs every person involved at the various different stages to do their job well and step up to the plate when a problem arises. Troubleshooting is an important part of customer service. With the best will in the world, there will always be the odd hiccup and the occasional major disaster, and a good company will know when to acknowledge fault and pull out all the stops to remedy the situation.

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