How to Quickly and Quietly Handle Customer Conflict
Unfortunately, your customers aren’t always going to be happy. Customer complaints are just an expected part of the job! But what do you do when an upset customer takes it to the next level? What’s your best course of action when customers are loud, angry, or disruptive? Handling conflicts with customers both quickly and quietly can be difficult, but read through the following tips for some ideas on how you can face problem customers.
You’d be surprised what an effect a friendly smile and a polite greeting can have on a person. Just because your customer is being disruptive doesn’t mean you have an excuse to do so, too. Treat the customer with respect if it’s at all possible. Don’t cross your arms, roll your eyes, or sigh.
Sometimes, customers just want to be heard. In these cases, they’ll calm down as soon as they have your attention. And if your customer is genuinely upset about something in your bar or restaurant, it’s always a good idea to hear him/her out.
“But I didn’t do anything wrong!” you might be saying. Technically, that could be true, but that’s not how the customer sees it. What’s worth more, your pride or quickly and quietly solving this dispute? Apologizing shows customers that you understand their situation (even if you don’t agree with what s/he’s saying). However, if a customer won’t back down or accept your apology, you don’t need to keep apologizing.
Fix the situation (if you can).
Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do to make a customer happy. If a customer is ranting because s/he has to wait 30 minutes for a table, there’s nothing you can do but listen and apologize. But if a customer is upset because s/he thinks his food was improperly cooked, that’s something you can fix. Offer to bring the customer a new meal or give him/her a gift card. This is a small price to pay if it quiets an upset customer.
Try to move the situation elsewhere.
Sometimes listening, apologizing, and even offering freebies isn’t enough to make a customer calm down. If the customer is sitting in your dining room, s/he is in earshot of all your other customers—not exactly an ideal situation. Politely ask the customer if you could talk to him or her somewhere more quiet.
Don’t forget about your other customers.
Remember, although you’re concerned about this particular angry customer, your other customers are important, too. You don’t want to ruin their meals by making them listen to a loud or uncomfortable argument. It’s in the best interest of everyone involved to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible, even if it involves apologizing for something you didn’t do or giving the customer a freebie.
Leave on a good note.
Hopefully, the previous steps made your customer happy. But there are some people who will simply never be satisfied. What should you do if a customer is still angry? Continue to be polite and friendly. Apologize again and sincerely thank the customer for coming in.
Keep everyone’s safety in mind.
Hopefully this sort of situation won’t happen, but if you ever feel that you or other diners are truly in danger, don’t hesitate to call security or the police.
Although you hope your customers will be happy with your bar or restaurant, it’s always good to be prepared for unhappy customers. By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be prepared to handle customer conflict quickly and quietly.