It doesn’t matter how awesome your food is – or that your friends think you’re a social genius. Facing angry customers is inevitable for anyone running a restaurant, food truck or food stand. Follow these five steps and transform difficult moments into positive customer experiences.
Bam! All of a sudden you’re in front of an upset customer who just started yelling. In your face! Your pulse is rapidly increasing, in the heat of the moment, we advise you to …
1. Do listen, do not argue
Don’t rush to apologize or offer a solution. That way you will fully understand the complaint – either the pointlessness or the actual screw-up. Remember that most customers just want to express their upset feelings to someone. You don’t have to agree – but stay away from arguing and instead listen and express your understanding.
Stay away from arguing – instead listen and express your understanding.
2. Don’t take it personally
Well, this one is easier said than done. It’s natural to defend oneself a threatening situation. But the customer is most likely not angry at you, he or she is rather non-satisfied or right-away pissed off with the food or the order.
3. The customer does NOT have to be right, but…
Remember that expectations and reality are two separate things. If the customer didn’t get what he interpreted on the menu – it’s about practicing damage control for you. The goal should be to not cause any embarrassment for the customer – so by pursuing the two previous steps you will figure out what the customer wants and can offer something that’s closer to his or her expectations.
Expectations and reality are two separate things.
4. Don’t excuse, apologize!
It doesn’t matter whether the complaint was legitimate or not. Admit it, be the owner of the long wait or the screw-up in the kitchen and then focus on how to make it right. Quick excuses will only add to the poor impression and piss off the person even more.
5. Offer solutions
And now to the resolving part. The minimum fix should be to replace the mistaken order or cold food. But don’t be overly generous, be careful offering a discount or a certificate for a future order since it normally doesn’t relate to the complaint. Instead provide what the customer asks for and exceed his or her expectation by offering more than requested.
Prepare for unpleasant moments – and you’ll overcome defensiveness or the risk of losing temper.
Let’s sum it up!
Ensure all employees including yourself are trained on how to handle customer complaints. It really does make sense to prepare for unpleasant moments and that way overcome the natural defensiveness.
Remember that disappointed customers tend to be more willing to share their bad experiences among friends and in social media than the satisfied ones. Good luck!
Speaking about the not so glory moments – don’t miss “Snack secrets: Restaurants and cafe owners share their biggest business mistakes!”