Selfridge coined the phrase ‘the customer is always right’ to promote good service in the retail stores, but does it cross over into modern hospitality.
Let me run through how a restaurant works, a restaurateur has an idea, hires a head chef to create this idea and make it happen 7 days a week. Whether it’s a Indian, Chinese, fine dining, dishes are trialed and tested, they are finalised, the menu is written and that becomes the food philosophy for that kitchen. This philosophy may not make everyone happy, but it’s what the restaurant believes.
So how does this make the customer wrong when they complain? Well let me start.
The head chef is a trained professional, spending 4 years as an apprentice, spending many years learning and perfecting their trade.Not to mention cooking the dish countless times, everyday, and designed the menu.
The customer after not accquiring any training but has watched Masterchef, cooked at home or their Nona cooks, makes them a Michelin chef. The internet is a great source of information but doesn’t always get it right. A YouTube video does not make you a pastry chef, it teaches one way.
When the customer thinks they know what they are talking about this causes all types of problems. Sometimes it’s changing the menu, now this might not seem like a big deal but, it changes the way service is going and the chef with have to create something on the spot putting random things on a plate that don’t nessaraly match up. This also puts a rift between the front of house and the kitchen, as the waiter has to deal with this person and it’s ‘the customer is always right’ mentality and the chef can’t do anything about it.
2. Didn’t write the menu
Countless hours are spent writing a menu, so much that the customer doesn’t know.
The menu has to be costed, ingridents sourced, the way it runs in the kitchen has to figured out, all part of contructing a menu.
Regulars are defiantly ones that think they wrote the menu, yes having regulars are good, but they will often ask for something the used to be on the menu.
In cooking, there are many ways of cooking a dish, but it’s up to the head chef to decide on the one and correct way to do that dish in that kitchen. Whether it is true blue to the traditional way, or a new way, it’s how it is done.
3. Wrong intention.
Some people just want to complain to get something in return, whether it’s a free meal or drinks. These customers have ruined it for everyone, making the smallest problem the biggest deal and requesting outrageous things.
I’m not saying that chefs don’t make mistakes, they do, all the time, but this doesn’t mean the customer should kick up a fuss and get everything comp’d. The situation should be dealt with, weather it’s a replacement, or another dish, but a simple ‘I don’t really like it’ doesn’t cut it. Between the menu and the wait staff there are enough opportunities for the customer to understand what food they are getting.
Bill gates said ‘a unhappy customer is the greatest source of learning’, so we need to use them. Whether it’s for the next menu, even the next customer or even how to approach the situation, we are always learning.
Cooking is a art form that has been done and adapted, changed and evolved through the ages. So the customer has to understand that food is charging, and it won’t be the same as what Nona used to make, it will be different. Customers need to trust the chef and the service they are revieving otherwise they are not going to receive the experience intended and simple if they don’t like the experience, don’t go back, it’s that easy. And restaurants need to understand that all customers are good to have, so we don’t need to please them all, so let them go.