If you have ever worked in a restaurant you have most likely encountered a rude customer or two. Rude customers can affect wait staff all the way up to the owners, and they come in all shapes in sizes. From over demanding families to overly drunk crowds, customers can be hard to handle sometimes. The customer experience is one of the most important aspects of managing a successful restaurant. If customers have a bad time, then the restaurant suffers. However, there are some customers that are just impossible to please. No restaurant is made perfect, so it’s more important that restaurant owners, managers, and employees be prepared on how to handle these types of situations rather than how to avoid them.
1. Kill Them with Kindness
If a customer is getting loud and unruly with you, it can be very easy to come back to them with the same type of attitude. That is always the wrong thing to do. Whether you are the owner or their waiter, it’s always important you start your conversations with an unruly customer by being kind and light hearted. After all, that customer is at your restaurant with the intent of paying for your goods and services. However, your kindness should only extend to a certain point. If the customer is not recognizing your attitude and their rudeness is growing, you should consider getting a manager if you are lower level staff, or telling the customer to leave if you’re a superior. After a certain point, rude customers can hinder other customer’s experience which makes the whole situation unproductive.
2. Recognize the Customer’s Feelings
Even if you don’t agree with a rude customer, you should always acknowledge what they are saying. People want to be heard when they have a problem. It’s a good idea to use language like, “I understand” and “I will get that fixed right away by doing so and so.” Customers want to hear what you are doing to solve their problem. While you might not want to ever see these customers again, it’s important to recall how they can affect the restaurant in the future. When a customer has a bad time at a restaurant, they are far more likely to talk about it with friends and family, then a good but normal experience. The reason is, this event stood out to them for a bad reason.
3. Fix the Problem Quickly
It’s never a good idea to let issues or problems carry on. If you have one guest complain that a waiter is taking too long to serve drinks, you don’t want that to spread to other tables. Customers are easily influenced by other customers, and the longer a problem a goes without being addresses, the quicker it can spread. It’s also not a good to hide from a problem a customer has. You should address it head on, so you can continuously improve your restaurant. If you are the restaurant owner or manager, you want your employees to be empowered to try and solve guest problems first, then come to you if they are unable to remedy the situation. In a restaurant it’s often a simple problem that can be simply taken care of by a staff member giving a customer a gift certificate, comping an item, or giving another form of an apology. As the owner or manager, you should put procedures in place so you
4. Remember to Stay Calm
If you stay calm, it may keep the customer from escalating the situation. People don’t like to be told what to do, especially if you are encountering an intoxicated individual. You should offer to speak with the customer away from the dining hall, because you don’t want more than one person adding to the situation. Remember that as the restaurant worker, you are there to lessen the problem and not add to it.
5. Don’t Forget to Apologize
Whether the customer is in the wrong or not, you should always apologize. Giving an apology is just giving the customer reassurance that you understand and are dealing with their problem. Whether it be just saying I’m sorry or offering something additional, customers will like that you went the extra mile. For example, a server got an order wrong, and the customer doesn’t want to wait for what they wanted and they get angry. You can try giving them a gift card and not letting them pay for what was initially brought.
6. Follow Up
Whether it is after they have left the restaurant or when they have finished your meal, you should always check in with a customer after you were able to solve their problem. It demonstrates to the customer that you value their feedback. When a customer feels you did everything possible to solve their problem or change their mood, they will be more likely to visit your restaurant a second time.
Difficult customers are never fun for anyone working in a restaurant. The key is to have a solid plan in place for every scenario that could arise. If you can acknowledge a customer’s problem and get it solved quickly, you are ahead of many in the restaurant game. Dealing with every hard situation head on in the restaurant world will ultimately help your restaurant run smoother.