Pub owners/managers give tips on customer service. What should you do when a customer complains that a medium steak is too rare?
Assistant manager, Five Degrees West, Falmouth, Cornwall
This is a fairly common problem for us. The trouble is a customer's interpretation of cooking steak on the barbecue at home is different from that of a chef cooking it on a chargrill. Sometimes it also depends on what country the customer is from as different nationalities cook their steaks in different ways.
1 Take the steak back to the kitchen and make sure it is cooked to the customer's liking.
2 Politely explain that cooking steak is often a question of individual interpretation and suggest the customer should bear this in mind when ordering steak in future.
Proprietor, the Puesdown Inn, Compton Abdale, Gloucestershire
This rarely happens to us as we spend time with the customer, when we are taking their order, establishing exactly how they want their steak cooked and ensuring they understand what they will be getting. It is important to convey this information effectively to the chef. The front-of-house person needs to be able to handle both customer and chef.
1 Take the steak back to the kitchen and ask the chef to cook it for longer.
2 Explain the situation to the customer and reassure them that their steak will arrive in a few minutes.
Steak is always challenging, as one person's idea of "medium" is completely different from someone else's. Some customers order their steak in a way that makes it extremely difficult to convey what they want to the kitchen. Recently I had a customer insisting that they wanted their steak medium, but with no pink showing. When I suggested that perhaps they wanted it medium/well done they said no - they wanted it medium!
1 Remember that one person's interpretation of medium can be very different from another's.
2 Take the steak back and offer to cook it further or cook another one if the complaint is that the steak is over-done. We also allow the customer to opt for an alternative dish.
3 Even if my husband, who is our chef, felt he'd cooked the steak perfectly, if the customer wasn't happy we would always put the situation right to their satisfaction.