Keeping your calm: how to deal with difficult customers in a restaurant setting

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As rewarding as running a restaurant business can be, sometimes matters have a tendency to spiral out of control, especially when you’re dealing with overly demanding customers.

Still, as the old saying goes, your customers are always right (even when they aren’t).

After all, they’re the lifeline of your business, hence, you should treat them as such.

Yes, this includes listening to them critique your offerings, your interior design, the environment, and everything else for that matter.

Simply put, you shouldn’t let them lead you out of your character and provoke you.

Instead, here’s something much better you can do; why not take their complaints as an inspiration to take your restaurant to a whole new level?

Sometimes, it’s all a matter of perspective.

With that in mind, let’s touch upon how to address their concerns politely and properly.

  1. Its professional not personal

Apologise, even if you don’t mean it.

Attempting to argue with them just isn’t going to work, since your words are likely to end up falling on deaf ears.

Remember, when you’re talking to them, even if you’re actively engaged in a heated debate, it’s never a personal matter.

It’s a professional matter, and professionalism and politeness go hand in hand.

Fighting fire with fire does not apply to difficult customers and it’s important to always keep that in mind.

Even In the case customer gets downright offensive, it’s easy to get tempted into responding with some harsh words of your own.

However, by temporarily appeasing your ego, you may face some dire consequences in the long run, and one of them includes seeing them leave a ton of negative feedback on various customer review platforms.

So sometimes taking the high road is a better option, because in the long run your business’ credibility comes first.

  1. Focus on solutions, not excuses

Don’t try to make excuses for yourself, even after you apologies.

Instead, attempt to come up with a solution.

For example, if the customer complains about having to wait too long for the meal to be served, offer them an alternative that can be served in a matter of minutes.

It’s always better to show that you are looking to improve whatever the customer’s complaint was.

As you can’t change tier negative experience, but you can offer them the guarantee that the next experience they have with your restaurant will be positive.

This is the most important impression you can make at this point.

  1. Realize that some people are impossible to please

At times you have to come to terms with that there is not a thing in the world that will please some of them.

It cannot be helped.

They feel a need to have their opinions heard, even if it involves treading on others.

Their reactions have more to do with their inner struggle than the food you serve.

In the end, that’s what they are – individuals with conflicted personalities.

By realising this, you’ll be much more understanding, even if it takes a little bit of belittling on your part (obviously, you should not make it show through your words or behaviour).

Conclusion

By internalising these strategies, you’ll stand a better chance of reaching a successful conflict resolution.

It’s going to take some time to break free from the old patterns of dealing with them, but if that’s what’s needed in order to improve, so be it.

The good news is that dealing with difficult customers gets easier over time, but it’s not because they get less demanding.

It’s because you get more resilient and grow in terms of diplomacy and understanding.

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