There’s a Hair in My Service!

By: | On: August 3, 2011 | In: attentive customer service, Complaint Management, confronting customers, encouraging complaints, handling complaints, observative customer service, oculus hospitality training and business solution, Oculus Hospitality Training and Business Solutions Inc., reparatory customer service, restaurant customer service, welcoming customer complaints, No Comments

“Is that a hair?” my friend said, scrutinizing his pasta dish. He dipped a finger into his plate and pulled out what was indeed a strand of hair. He crinkled his nose and set his fork down.

“You should tell them,” I said. His food had barely been touched.

“No, I’ll wait to see if the server notices.” He draped a napkin over his plate like it was a dead person.

I too pushed my plate away, my appetite now ruined. And we waited. Our server passed by our table a few times, failing to notice our untouched dishes. She had already come by earlier to ask how we were enjoying everything; she had done her duty.

When we asked for the bill and she came to clear our table, we were certain that she would make some comment about our plates. Instead, all we got was a: “Here’s your bill. Let me take those out of the way for ya.”

Moments later, when we saw the server that had seated us, we told her that we both left our food unfinished because of a hair that my friend had found in his plate. She apologized profusely and asked why we hadn’t mentioned anything earlier – that the chef would have prepared a second dish for us.

“We expected someone to ask us why we returned our plates almost completely full, but that never happened,” my friend said.

More apologies and consolation efforts, but by that point, it was too late. My friend and I paid the bill and were on our way.

Later, I got to thinking how easy it is to miss customer service opportunities. Our server may have genuinely neglected to see that we left our food untouched, but the result was that two customers walked. As a customer service representative it is crucial that you be a good observer. Keep your eyes open for customer dissatisfaction, as customers will not always voice their issues. In fact, most people shy away from confrontation and would rather vow never to return to an establishment than put in their complaints.

And that brings me to my second point: perhaps the server did notice that we hadn’t eaten our food but still decided to turn a blind eye to avoid confrontation. That may be a natural human instinct, but customer service representatives must be willing to place themselves in the line of fire from time to time. If they don’t hear a customer out and receive their complaints, then who will? Most customers whose service issues are satisfactorily resolved will do business again with you, but in order for their concerns to be addressed, they first need to be welcomed.

So, do your very utmost to provide attentive and reparatory service. Even if you gave your customer hairy service, doesn’t mean they have to leave with a bad taste in their mouth.

This is a tip from Oculus Training Group. You can learn more about our training programsmystery shopping and instructional design services at Oculus Canada ( or Oculus USA(


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