Chef stabs man after complaint about service: Five lessons in customer service

Police have charged a Sydney chef over the alleged stabbing of a man after he complained about the service at a restaurant in the city’s south west.

The NSW police reports that five men were at a restaurant on Haldon Street in Lakemba late Sunday night when they complained about the service.

An argument ensued at the front counter of the restaurant and a chef allegedly retrieved a long metal skewer from the kitchen and began threatening the men with it.

The fight continued outside the restaurant after the customers walked away and the chef returned inside.

Police allege the chef came back outside armed with the skewer and attempted to strike one of the men with it.

The skewer pierced the palm of the customer and exited the other side. He had to be taken to Sydney Hand and Eye Hospital for surgery.

A 43-year-old chef from the restaurant was charged with reckless wounding and placed under arrest today.

Jo Ucukalo, the chief executive of Handle My Complaint, which assists businesses to avoid and resolve complaints, told SmartCompany that, obviously, stabbing a customer in response to a complaint was not the way to go.

“Business owners and staff need tor remember that everybody has the right to complain, but the person making the complaint does not have the right to be abusive, offensive or violent,” she says.

“If you do feel that somebody is overstepping the boundary in terms of being too emotional you need to have some strategies in place.”

Ucukalo has the following tips for businesses in handling customer complaints.

1. Train your staff to deal with customer complaints

Ucukalo says customer-facing staff will be more likely to recognise or receive a complaint before the business owner will.

“So it is important that you train your staff to be on the lookout for signs of dissatisfaction, it is best if you don’t wait until somebody is obviously unsatisfied,” she says.

Ucukalo recommends training staff to look at the faces of the people sitting at the tables in a restaurant and checking whether they look satisfied, content or frustrated.

For businesses working in a virtual space where they don’t have direct contact with customers, she recommends giving customers a call and asking how they think service is going.

“Asking questions gives a chance to get feedback and feedback can effectively stamp out complaints. You will never know the problems with your business if you don’t ask,” she says.

2. Try to defuse the situation through active listening

Ucukalo recommends being really conscious of your tone and how you address the person making the complaint.

“Defuse the situation by being calm, clear, allowing them to speak and using non aggressive tones and language,” she says.

“You need to practice active listening. If you are face to face, maintain eye contact, nod and have an open body stance. Another key way is to echo back some of the things they are saying.”

This story continues on Page 2. Please click below to keep reading.

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