Jun 28 2017
Korsha Wilson
3 Minutes to read

It happens. A customer orders catering for an event and it shows up late or incorrect, or it just isn’t what they were expecting, and now they’re upset. It can happen to even the best caterers and it can derail a potential business relationship if it’s not handled correctly. As Forbes notes, more and more customers value experience over cost, so it’s more important than ever to make sure that customer service for catered events is at a high level.

What can you do to make sure that one mistake doesn’t mean a decrease in orders? How you deal with an angry customer and how you handle customer complaints can be the difference between business you lose forever and a simple misunderstanding in a long-term catering relationship.

Here are three potential problems that can pop up and solutions you can employ in the moment and after an event, plus some post-mistake ideas on how to win a client back.

1. Catering Delivery is Late.

How to deal with an angry customer: There are a lot of reasons why you might be late delivering your order. There could be traffic, or you may have a kitchen malfunction at the last minute. But as soon as it becomes clear that you won’t make it to your location on time, contact the host. The host may be able to adjust the event schedule so the meal happens closer to the delivery time. Once you make it to the location, apologize to the host and let them know that you value their time.

When you work with ezCater, let ezCater’s Customer Service Ninjas know when you’re running late. They will contact the customer on your behalf with this information to free up your time to find a solution for the customer.

2. The Customer is not Happy with a Certain Dish.

How to deal with an angry customer: You hope that your food will be perfect, but sometimes a dish just doesn’t turn out as your customer expects. When you receive a complaint about an item from your menu, talk to the customer about what they don’t like and what they had hoped for instead. The best thing that you can do is to make sure that the person feels heard and believes that you care about their experience. If possible, offer an alternative to the dish that they don’t like. If the conversation is going well, you can make a suggestion for dishes that may better suit their tastes for a future private event.

Tips on how to deal with an angry customer

3. You Receive an Angry Message about a Catering Experience.

How to deal with an angry customer: Angry emails or calls can be frustrating, but the best thing to do is to take a step back and think about how to handle a customer complaint before firing off your return message. After taking a step back, take the time to craft a response that is proactive and empathetic. According to Inc. using phrases like “I’m sorry” and “how can we fix this?” lets the customer know that they’re being heard and their business matters to you. They’ll be more likely to work with you again if they feel like you listened to their concerns.

4. Other Ways to Win Back the Business

In any scenario, there are other options on how to deal with an angry customer. Here are a few other ways to encourage customers to try your catering again after a poor experience:

  • Offer a discount or a complimentary service for their next catering order with your company.
  • Schedule a call with the client to go over the event and hear about ways you can improve.
  • Drop off cookies or other sweet treats to the office or company that wasn’t happy with their order.  (And include some business cards!)

One of the best ways to make sure that catering customers have a great experience is to think about how their business managers interact with you. Every business has different needs, and by learning about different types of office professionals who often secure catering, you can learn how to better adapt your strategy.

By showing empathy and being proactive, you can win back clients and show them why they should be doing business with your company.


Looking to grow your catering business? Sign up with ezCater.

Start here

Korsha Wilson

Written by:

Korsha Wilson

Korsha Wilson is a food writer and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She has worked in front of the house and back of the house roles in restaurants, as an intern for the National Restaurant Association, and spent two years working as a cheese maker for an artisanal mozzarella producer in New England. She is the founder of A Hungry Society, a blog and website dedicated to celebrating food culture’s diversity and helping create a more inclusive food world. When she’s not working you can find her at a restaurant or museum and if you want to see her geek out ask her about the role of restaurants in modern society or "real" crab cakes- she grew up in Maryland.

Posted in: In the IndustryRestaurant

Tagged with: Catering, Customer Service