Someone who runs one of Birmingham’s best restaurants approached us recently, upset about a negative reader review posted on Bhamdining. Our restaurant friend was not just upset about someone posting something negative, but about the fact that the poster did not let restaurant management know about their bad experience.
Mistakes happen. Something gets overcooked or undercooked, they don’t leave out the onions as you requested, maybe your order gets lost altogether. If something’s not right, speak up – nicely, of course. If your server doesn’t get it resolved (or if your server IS the problem), talk to the manager there at the time. And if your problem still isn’t resolved, contact the restaurant the next day, or at least within a few days.
Do try to distinguish between something that’s really wrong and something that’s just not quite what you expected. And to head off potential problems with expectations, don’t be afraid to ask your server questions up front about the menu. It’s far better to ask, “Tell me more about the steak tartare” than to send it back once it arrives because you didn’t realize that steak tartare is served raw.
We often get take out from the Jim ‘n Nick’s nearby; it’s consistent and convenient. But it seems about half the time we do this, something is missing from our order. It was the last straw recently when we picked up a $100 order for a family get-together (my Dad lives in Illinois and doesn’t get to have barbecue often), and they forgot the BARBECUE SAUCE!
A call to the restaurant actually got a quart of sauce delivered to our door, but it took them longer than it would have taken for one of us to run over there and get it ourselves. So we went to their web site and used the feedback e-mail to express our dissatisfaction. We got an e-mail back the next day, and a few days later a handwritten note arrived letting us know they had not only taken the entire tab off the credit card, they also had enclosed a gift card for our next family gathering!
Not every complaint results in such a generous make-good, of course. But at the very least you should get an apology and get things made right. There have only been a handful of times when we have complained and run up against an uncaring restaurant manager or owner. Most of the time, owners of local restaurants are very keen to make sure their customers have the best experience possible. So before you post your next scathing comment about a restaurant you feel did you wrong, whether it’s at Bhamdining.com, al.com, chowhound.com or on your own blog, at least give them a chance first to make it right.
And don't forget to let a restaurant know when they've really done an outstanding job, too!
Here are some links to some other thoughts on the topic: