In any business, difficult customers that are impossible to satisfy are inevitable, more so if you’re in the service industry. An encounter with a demanding or abusive customer not only hurts your business but also negatively affects the emotional well-being and motivation of your staff.
Therefore, it’s important to understand the effective ways of dealing with such customers.
1. Empathise and Communicate - The Small Things Matter!
Show the customer that you genuinely care about their feelings and you acknolwedge their concerns. This can be really powerful through small things like eye-contact, body language (Never cross your arms!) and tone of voice.
2. Listen To The Customer
It goes without saying that an angry customer wants to be heard and feel understood. Try to remain calm and really pay attention to the customer. It is best to reinstate what was said by the customer to make them feel valued.
3. It's Nothing Personal
Much like online reviews, the customer is venting out on the service or product and not against you personally even if harsh words were used. Never try to fight a customer as this would only escalate the situation, which would make it that much harder to rectify. There’s no excuse to be aggressive to a customer, so always keep your cool!
4. No Excuses
Very often issues that are out of your control can result in an angry customer. This could be the food's quality and taste being abysmal, noisy surroundings, or the customer's unreasonable demands. Don't keep trying to prove that it is not your fault. Instead, explain the reason calmly, issue an apology, and maintain empathy.
5. Offer Solutions On The Spot
Whenever a customer is dissatisfied, strive to offer fair solutions that you think would pacify the customer. If a customer received a poor service or product, apologise and offer some form of compensation. Free drinks or desserts are cost-effective ways of freebies for a restaurant.
However, if the customer is irrational, try to offer something that would not be too costly. A discount voucher for a next visit is a great way to offer something to the customer and encourage a repeat visit.
You are bound to have a fair share of difficult customers, but what matters most is how you adapt and solve a crisis.