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Tips for dealing with angry restaurant customers

If you were asked to define your favourite restaurant with a few words, what would they be?

Delicious food, culinary creativity, a vibrant atmosphere?

For a restaurant to keep its customers happy and returning, all of the mentioned are essential, and not only.

Offering exceptional customer service is at the core of prosperity and will certainly help gain a competitive advantage over others on the market.

However, even when ticking all of the boxes such as tasty meals, a great service, and amazing environment, no restaurant is truly exempt from angry customers.

We’ve prepared a list of useful tips that can help you handle such situations professionally and turn around a negative scenario into a positive outcome. 

Encourage the customer to share their feedback

You’re probably already familiar with the magic of listening. Especially in situations that involve intense emotions and angry clients, it is important to stay calm and observe.

Hear what your customers have to say and let them know that you are there to help them resolve the issue.

Try your best to understand the drivers that pushed your customer to get angry with the service or product received. Some of the most common restaurant complaints include long queues, a slow service, or a meal that did not match the expectations.

Could something similar have happened in your restaurant?

Don’t interrupt

When dealing with an angry customer you may be tempted to interrupt and share your side of the story or get into a defensive position.

Although this may be pleasing and ego-boosting for a second, it is likely to lead to an even worse escalation of the argument.

Instead, allow the customer to share their full story and viewpoint with you without having to fight for the freedom of speech.

After all, you are there to assist them and offer a solution, not argue, which is not only unpleasant but a waste of time that can be invested elsewhere.

Address the customer by name

Sometimes, figuring out what to say to an angry customer can be quite difficult.

For starters, remember that using their name is a huge plus and a great way to demonstrate sincerity and appreciation.

This will also add a personal touch to the conversation and will show the customer that you are encouraging an open and genuine dialogue.

If you haven’t had the chance to get their name in advance, it surely doesn’t hurt to ask. This tactic can make the customer appreciate that you see them as a human being and not simply a source of money for your business.

Where possible, share this method with your staff and ensure that they receive adequate training to provide exceptional customer service, even to angry customers.  

Assume that the customer is always right

Speaking to an angry customer face to face is an especially interesting experience due to body language and all that it gives away. You don’t really need to be an expert in body language to be able to get the idea of where someone stands in an argument.

This is why it will be helpful to truly accept the basic rule of customer service that the customer is always right.

Appreciating this will prevent you from giving away your true feeling in a conversation and is likely to make the dialogue calmer and unbiased. 

Responding to anger with a similar emotion will only cause additional damage. Stay calm and show your customer that you are empathetic with their unhappiness.

Offer to move them to a quieter table, help them find a seat faster, and make sure that you do everything in your ability to make them come back to enjoy your food.

Offer compensation

Once you have heard the full story and you are now aware of all that is irritating your customer, it is time to move on to the final step – the solution.

Depending on the situation, resolving the immediate issue may not be enough to motivate your customer to stay, dine in your restaurant and come back in the future.

The more loyal customers you have the better, right?

Compensating an angry customer is a nice way to apologise and make them feel special. Consider offering a free round of drinks, free appetizers, or dessert on the house.

It won’t break your business but it is a gesture that will be remembered by the customer. You can even think about offering a discount on their next visit to increase the likelihood of a return.

In conclusion

Facing an angry customer is part of any job, regardless of the field.

It is merely impossible to keep everyone happy at all times and considering that everyone has their own lifestyle, thoughts and problems only makes it natural.

When speaking to dissatisfied customers at your restaurant try to incorporate some of the points mentioned above to make the process easier and receive a better outcome.

Do your best to improve your products or services based on the feedback that you’ve received and offer an experience that is difficult not to like!

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