Disgruntled customers are inevitable, regardless of your every effort to create an enjoyable dining experience. The potential of mismatched visions of required service and quality between customers and servers cannot be avoided. Whether the food, service, or customers’ temperament acts as the catalyst of the dispute, you must deal with it in a professional way. Let’s explore 6 useful steps to handle dissatisfied customers.
1) Stay calm
- Even though the customer may not always be right, they are a customer and must be treated with respect. It can be difficult to put your emotions and frustrations aside, but it is an absolute must when dealing with irate customers.
- No matter how ridiculous or reasonably upset the customer may be, you must keep your composure. Here are 43 ways to keep calm when dealing with customers.
2) Look and act professional
- Your body language speaks for itself. Approach the situation in a professional way regardless of your inherent emotion. Act sympathetic toward and understanding of the problem at hand and take proactive measures to fix it.
- Here is a list of ways to emit a professional and positive approach in a high-tension situation. No matter how exasperated you may feel, make sure to value the customer’s opinion and business!
3) Do not take it personally
- You may have followed our tips about customer service best practices but have still found yourself in a sticky situation. Just remember – some people are ornery by nature. This online book digs deeper into ways to deal with difficult people.
- When it is apparent that you may not have done anything wrong, but you still have to deal with an unhappy customer, here are four ways to handle customer complaints.
4) Take ownership of the “mistake”
- Although it may be the first ineptitude the customer has encountered, you must take ownership of any mistake – even if it is not truly your fault – and empathize with your patron.
- Take ownership of the problem, and be as transparent as possible. Let them know how and when the situation will be fixed. Customers like to be looped in on your plans to alleviate the tension or remedy a situation.
5) Involve the manager
- What happens when the situation escalates beyond the point of comfort? At what point should staff involve the manager? If and when it is truly necessary, simply having staff get the manager involved may help diffuse the situation.
- At this point, the customer is usually extremely dissatisfied, and a server or bartender should comply with their request to get the manager. However, by understanding the reasons why customers require a manager’s assistance, staff can avoid the instance entirely.
6) Refer them elsewhere
- Terminally dissatisfied customers who vociferously and repeatedly complain may not be the best for your business… You may want to refer them elsewhere in a polite and professional way.
- Permitting perpetual complaints from repeat customers sets an unwanted tone and atmosphere that is undesirable for your establishment.
Dealing with difficult customers is the unglamorous part of your hospitality job. However, it is helpful to have a plan in your back pocket to refer to in times of need or desperation. Customers’ attitudes cannot be predicted and thus must be handled delicately in each and every encounter.
How have you handled a dissatisfied customer in the past, and what were the results?