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Published: 11/02/2020

How to deal with angry customers in your restaurant

Business Growth

The thought of dealing with an angry customer may send shivers down your spine. But unfortunately, it’s part and parcel of running a customer facing business like a restaurant, so it’s bound to happen at some point.

With this in mind, it’s important to be prepared for this potential scenario, so you can handle the customer in the right way and deal with the situation as efficiently (and painlessly!) as possible. Get it wrong, and it’s a lost customer. Get it right, and hopefully they’ll stick with you!

So how exactly can you prepare yourself for a possible angry customer? 

1. Remain calm 

One of the most important things is to stay calm. The customer might be raising their voice, but that doesn’t mean you should. In fact, it could make the situation worse.

You want to show that you are in control of the situation and the best way to do this is by keeping your cool. Make sure you practise self control, remember to breathe and listen.

Remember that there is a difference between an individual who is being difficult and one who is being abusive. If someone is getting abusive, you have every right to walk away.

2. Listen to what the customer is saying

The best way to deal with the situation is to find out exactly what has happened. 

The customer will want to vent, so it’s so important to listen to what they have to say. Be patient and demonstrate that you’re listening and acknowledging what they have to say.

It may help to reiterate what the customer has said once they’ve finished to show that you have understood. This also allows you to ask any questions you may need to ask to be able to come to a resolution.

3. Keep your body language in check

Body language is also important in this instance. Make sure that you’re making eye contact with the customer when they speak. Keep your arms unfolded and stand up straight to show that they have your full attention.

4. Show sympathy

Now you’ve listened to what they have to say, you need to show that you not only understand what they are saying, but that you understand their frustrations as well. Use sympathetic language, and a calm tone of voice. An angry customer wants to feel like they are being heard, so be their ally.

5. Say sorry

It goes without saying that you should apologise, even if you don’t actually think you’ve anything to say sorry for. However, it shows that you’ve listened to them, that you’re acknowledging their frustration and it could help diffuse the situation.

6. Find a solution

So, you’ve listened carefully to your angry customers’ complaint, and hopefully calmed them down a little. Now it could be a good time to ask them what they think would be a reasonable outcome. Or, if you get the feeling they’re going to ask for too much, offer them what you think is fair. It could be a round of free drinks, or a small discount off the bill, whatever you think best suits.

If the customer still isn’t happy, despite what you’ve offered, it may be time to escalate the issue to someone more senior in the business. Or, if you’re the owner/manager, you may have to bring it to a close without a resolution. But remember, most customers will just want to vent and get a solution to their issue.

David Goulden
David Goulden Copywriter
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