Handling customers with food allergies
Keep you and your customers safe from food allergies using these simple steps.
Allergies are very common, with more than 1 in 13 children being allergic to some form of food, and one out of four people allergic to some food claiming to have had an allergic reaction when eating away from home. Considering this statistic, it seems like common sense that all restaurants should ensure that their food is made considering and depending on the customer’s allergies, but this generally isn’t what happens. Forgetting that customers can have allergies is something that restaurants do on a regular basis, and this could not only hurt your customer, it could also hurt your brand name.
Your food is meant to bring satisfaction and enjoyment to a customer, not the opposite.
Remember: Allergies are quite a huge deal. People could very easily die due to them, and that’s a type of risk your restaurant shouldn’t have to take. At EAT.ch, this was one of the very first things we thought of, which is the reason why we continuously asking the customer to let the restaurant know if they happen to have any allergies. When ordering food from us, the customer has two ways to let you know that they have allergies; they might let you know directly over the phone, or they might mention it in the “leave a note” box.
If they were to directly inform you over the phone, then it is very important that you don’t forget the allergy requirements mentioned. Write it down! Don’t just shout “no eggs in the next order” to your chef from across the room, because there is no doubt he will forget. If the customer took his time to specifically call you up and mention this over the phone, then you know the customer really has an issue with the food. So forgetting this bit of vital information can be disastrous for your restaurant. Not only will you lose a customer forever, the bad rating he gives you will subsequently make you lose even more business.
Next, be sure you carefully check the “NOTE” box in our order confirmation. If the customer called you, it might have been easy to get the specific details about customer allergies right from him, but if he has only vaguely mentioned his allergies in the “leave a note” box, then it’s up to you to call him and clarify. Always clarify. Doing this will ensure that the customer gets a good impression of your restaurant when you personally call them to ensure that their health isn’t affected, while you also save yourself from a ton of bad reviews.
Another important thing is that even though you are reading this, and happen to know the consequences of ignoring customer allergies, your staff may not. It is therefore vital to train your staff on the subject. This is important not only when people order across EAT.ch, but also when your customers come into your restaurant and order meals from there. To begin with, the person taking the order should be able to properly transmit the allergy requirements to the people cooking the food. This is a major issue you might run into, especially when the restaurant is busy. People tend to forget little things, like the woman from table four who said “no fish, please”, so perhaps it wouldn’t be out of order to have a system that records allergic information alongside everything else. Next, you need to ensure that the people cooking the food know of the different process they need to follow when they receive a special order.
You also need to check with your food suppliers and make sure that you know exactly what’s in the stuff they supply you with. Finally, you need to let your customers know exactly what’s in the food you serve them. If you fail to do this, a customer may blindly order something and end up having an allergic reaction, which may not exactly be your fault, but will leave the customer with a bad aftertaste of your restaurant. The best way to make sure that the customer knows what he is eating is by mentioning all the ingredients right next to the dish.
Of course, if the customer hasn’t indicated any allergies, either by phone oh in the special notice box, it’s safe to assume that whatever the customer ordered including any toppings/flavouring/colouring etc… Is safe for the customer. In this case, there is no real reason for you to go about phoning up customers asking about anything.
P.S: Consider opening a separate menu for people with allergies; like a lactose-free menu. It’ll open up a new world of possibilities for you.