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Why I like customer complaints

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"The complainant is definitely right and they have a problem." This was the response I received from one of our assessors after he had been asked to go and investigate a customer complaint.

Now I am not normally a fan of people complaining (particularly to me!) but when it comes to beer quality in Cask Marque accredited pubs I think it is great. We visit every accredited pub at least twice a year, but if we receive a genuine customer complaint then we will investigate every one of them to try and establish if there is a problem and what we can do to help resolve it. Our reputation is built on consumers being able to rely on our recommendations to get good beer and this committment to quality is what has helped us grow to have over 7,500 accredited pubs.

The original complaint came from a member of the public via twitter saying the beer was 'soapy tasting and flat'. Because many people are content to complain to their friends and vote with their feet, we monitor social networking sites and try and pick up instances where people have been disappointed with the beer quality in a Cask Marque pub. The pub in question normally passes our inspections with flying colours and the assessor was therefore surprised when he was asked to investigate. The assessors report continues the story...

glass-trouble-p3"When I visited they only just passed the Cask Marque inspection with our minimum score 16/20 for one beer and 18/20 for the other two beers.  This is unusual for this outlet as they generally score better. When I investigated further I discovered many glasses showing signs of detergent residue. Obviously if the customer had received a  glass like this then the beer could indeed taste soapy and the head would disappear very quickly.

I subsequently went through their glass washing procedure with the duty manager and discovered they were using hedgehog brushes before placing glasses in the glasswasher.  On testing the liquid in the hedgehog tray I found it to be virtually neat detergent and therefore the glasswasher would struggle to remove that level of detergent. Duty manager said they had several new staff and someone was using the detergent too liberally. Duty manager will initiate the following action:- 

1) Discontinue the use of the hedgehog brushes immediately.

2) If glasses are lipstick stained a quosh kit will be used before placing glasses in the glasswasher.

3) Renovate all glasses with immediate effect.

4) Do regular visual checks to ensure no glasses contain detergent residue.

5) Do regular waterbreak tests to ensure glasses are clean.

6) Follow the Cask Marque glasscare charter.

7) Monitor usage of detergent and rinse aid.

I also went through proper line cleaning procedures and left a copy of our line cleaning charter. In discussion I discovered they weren't running water through the beer lines between casks. Duty manager said in future he would always run water through the lines. 

As mentioned before, I usually find the beer at this outlet very good.  I think this problem was just a hiccup due to new staff not being trained properly. Duty manager said he would improve glasscare procedures. Thanks should go to this complainant for pointing out the problem."

This report beautifully illustrated the value of Cask Marque. Where else could a company get a visit from an industry expert, without asking for it, and get a resolution which stops its customers from walking out - and the best thing of all? They will not have to pay a single penny for this visit.

The assessors we use to make these visits are generally retired brewers who work for Cask Marque in order to keep in touch with the industry, earn a little money but most importantly to try and help pubs look after cask ale. The one thing which unites our assessors is their passion for beer quality and long may we have such a dedicated group of people working for us!

So although I don't like people complaining, it can bring wonderful job satisfaction for Cask Marque and hopefully pleaseure to customers and staff alike. If you would like to comment on beer quality in any Cask Marque accredited pub please email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with as much information as possible about the visit. Alternatively if you would like to go on one of our training courses so you do not have these problems in the first place email me or call us on 01206 752212