Even the best restaurants in the world get complaints from time to time, but one of the things that make them great restaurants is how they handle the customer’s grievances when they do occur.
While no one enjoys being criticised, it is essential that you learn how to deal with unhappy customers if you are going to be successful in the restaurant industry. Here we take a look at seven tips for turning disgruntled diners into satisfied customers:
1. Be personable
Good front of house staff will always introduce themselves fully when dealing with an unhappy customer. Approach the customer, let them know your position in the restaurant, and offer your name as well. This automatically helps to slow the complainant down and gives you an opportunity to assess the situation, even before the complaint has been heard.
2. Recognise their complaint
Now that you have introduced yourself, invite the customer to explain their objection fully. Listen attentively, and never interrupt. One of the quickest ways to antagonise a customer is to argue with them before they have had their say. Once the complaint has been made, summarise it so that the customer is fully aware that you have understood their grievance and then apologise in a sincere and steady voice.
3. Take action
If at all possible, try to resolve the issue there and then. A quick response will always get the best results, so try to address the problem while the customer is still on the premises. Empathise with the customer – even if their complaint isn’t entirely warranted – and do all that you can to put things right straight away.
If this is not practical or possible, make assurances that the problem will be dealt with as soon as it is viable to do so. Note down the client’s contact details so that you can keep them informed on the progress you are making with regard to their complaint.
4. Stay calm
Regardless of how your customer is acting, it is vital that you remain calm and considerate throughout the exchange. Whether you believe that the customer’s complaint is legitimate or not, you should always treat your patrons with the utmost respect. Failing to do so will only cause the situation to escalate, and what may have initially been a minor complaint could turn into a major issue if you were to lose your cool.
5. Don’t take it personally
Following on from staying calm, not taking complaints personally is crucial if you want to achieve a positive outcome. Whether you believe that the customer is right or wrong, it is always better to view the situation objectively and remain professional at all times.
6. Offer them something for nothing
If you are in a position to do so, offering the customer a freebie can often bring the situation to a halt. Whether it is a free round of drinks, a percentage discount off of their meal, or a main course on the house next time they visit, compensation works well in the vast majority of instances.
7. Call the manager
However, on occasions, some people simply cannot be appeased. Should a customer become heated whilst voicing their concerns, calling the manager will usually help to diffuse the situation before it escalates further. Human nature dictates that we all want to be heard by those in an authoritative position, so allowing the customer to voice his or her concerns to someone in a senior role can often make all the difference.
There you have it; seven tips for handling difficult diners. If you keep these practical pieces of advice in mind, dealing with customer complaints won’t be as daunting ever again.
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