The other night, I went to dinner at one of my new favorite restaurants. When I sat down, I couldn’t help but notice the table next to me was not having a pleasant dining experience. The two diners’ body language said it all. They both had their arms folded and were clearly trying to get the waiter’s attention by staring and gesturing for him to come over to the table. He apologized several times for something I could not decipher. A few minutes later, what seemed to be a complimentary dessert arrived.

This experience got me thinking: was the dessert enough to turn the unhappy diners into repeat and loyal customers? Ask yourself this question: would you rather pay full price for a meal and receive good service or get a complimentary dessert for bad service?

Although I appreciate, and sometimes expect, some kind of compensation for bad service, I would much rather pay for a positive experience. People don’t go to restaurants hoping to get bad service so they won’t have to pay. Or at least I don’t think so.

An article from stated, “What makes a restaurant experience memorable for a customer, nine times out of 10, is how they're made to feel rather than what they eat.”

So why are companies investing money in reimbursing upset customers when they should be training their employees to provide the best customer experience possible? If gaining loyal, repeat customers is the goal, training is the answer.

Customer service training teaches employees first and foremost how to communicate positively and professionally with customers. Training also helps employees with:

  • Developing skills to help build rapport with customers
  • Learning how to respond to customer requests
  • Questioning and confirming customer needs
  • Handling angry and upset customers

Some say customer service is a dying art. John Sullivan, a restaurant industry analyst and consultant, disagrees. He says, “All restaurants better pay attention to service or they will lose customers almost instantly.”