If you are going to work in the food service industry one thing you are bound to be faced with are customer complaints.As the old saying goes, “. . . you can’t please all the people all the time”. Eventually no matter how good the food or how good the service someone is going to be unhappy. This doesn’t have to be a major event and it doesn’t have to ruin your day. By following these seven simple suggestions, the majority of customer complaints can be handled to the satisfaction of all concerned.
1) Be Patient
You may or may not believe the customer is always right but the customer is always the customer. They pay the bills and provide your income. Right or wrong they deserve to have you listen patiently to what they have to say.
2) Be Courteous
Regardless of how the customer acts, short of physical violence there is no excuse for behaving in a less than courteous manner. This can be very difficult, especially if the customer becomes abusive but remember that other people including other customers will more than likely be observers to everything you say and do. Be sure they only have good things to say and that no one can lay any blame on your actions if the situation should escalate.
Related: 5 Tips for Building Customer Loyalty
3) Listen Attentively
In a great majority of situations a customer will be satisfied just knowing that you care enough to take an active interest in what they are saying. Give them your full attention. Don’t look away, don’t look bored and don’t act like you have somewhere else “important” to be. Whether you feel it or not, make the customer feel like the centre of your world.
4) Don’t Contradict
A customer with a complaint may not always have a valid complaint. Displaced aggression or perceived slights can often lead to a complaining customer. Contradicting them or trying to inject reality into the situation will only make matters worse. Never expect unreasonable people to act reasonably.
5) Apologize and Ask for a Solution
Kind words and perceived remorse on the part of the establishment makes a customer feel cared for and will greatly reduce any emotional energy the complainer may be carrying. Rather than trying to figure out what the customer wants, it is often much quicker and simpler to ask the customer what will make them happy.
Always give more than is required. If the customer wants their meal to be complimentary, give it and offer their next meal to be free as well.
7) Give Up
At some point you find a customer that is just not a nice person. There is nothing you can do or say that is going to make them happy. Sad, but it is a fact of life, some people aren’t happy and have no intention of being happy. With these people the best you can do is simply ask them to leave. Don’t worry about them giving you a bad name. These people either don’t have friends to tell or their friends are like them and you don’t need the headaches.
Now it’s your turn. What has been your experience in your restaurant and how was it handled? Leave a comment below.
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