5 Steps for Handling Unhappy Diners
Posted: Apr. 27, 2018
Knowing how to diffuse a situation with an angry or unruly diner is paramount. All members of your staff should be trained to handle uncomfortable situations—even those in the kitchen who do not usually get in front of customers. Having your whole staff well versed in conflict management will protect your restaurant in the long run, and will even improve interpersonal communications.
Diffuse the Situation with an Angry Diner
Serving good food is just one ingredient for longevity in the business. If you were to poll flourishing restaurants, they would emphasize excellent customer care as well. From a welcoming host to a well-timed kitchen, good service comes in many shades. Get your staff up to speed on all manners of service, including how to diffuse a situation with an unhappy customer.
Now, round up the crew and go over these pointers.
Ask for a name.
To call a customer “ma’am” or “sir” is formal and polite, but in this situation, get to know the name of your unhappy patron. By using his or her first name, you create a sense of intimacy and care. The diner will feel an inherent sense of being understood and looked after, which will help you ease the conversation through to a resolution.
This might be the most important piece of training: At no point should any member of your staff respond with anger, resentment, or rudeness to a customer. Such a response will be perceived as aggressive and will not diffuse the situation. Explain to staff that they should never take feedback personally. Encourage them to maintain composure. When diners are angry or unhappy, they need to explain themselves before a resolution can be reached. This is a part of the complaint and feedback process. To respond without compassion or in a rash manner will only escalate the situation further.
Do not interrupt.
Listen to an unhappy customer without interrupting. To ensure that your customer leaves satisfied, you must assess what it is that he or she wants. When customers are interrupted, however, they will feel as though their needs are considered unimportant, which could lead to further anger.
Don’t offer excuses. Offer solutions.
A common complaint from diners is that the food took too long. In these situations, diners do not want to hear that the kitchen is backed up. Instead, offer to send them free coffees at the ends of their meals or short discounts on the bill. This is what they care about—being taken care of. Responding with a solution, no matter how small, tells customers that you take their happiness seriously. Only in serious situations should an explanation be offered.
Staying calm, listening, and providing a solution are the crucial steps needed to find a resolution. But the final clincher—the proverbial “cherry on top”—is an apology. One clear apology is enough for the average disgruntled customer. Keep in mind, this does not need to be a weepy, long-winded statement. Keep it simple and straightforward. By apologizing, you are showing deference to the diner, a feeling that will not be forgotten.
As you train your restaurant staff to deal with complaints, emphasize the importance of showing respect to customers, no matter what complaints (or insults) they might have. Your customer could be having a bad day or be in a perpetual bad mood—yet none of that matters to you. Make your staff comfortable with these situations in advance. That way, in the event that an angry diner calls for attention, your staff will be able to solve the issue smoothly and soothe the customer.
Good service also relies on great technology. See how a restaurant POS system can help your business flourish.
Posted: Apr. 27, 2018 | Written By: Emma Alois
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