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Customer Service Tips – How to Handle Irate Customers
Are you ready to learn how to keep every guest happy? It starts with making sure that your managers are thoroughly trained in every position within your restaurant. They need to know all the jobs, so they can step in if someone calls off sick, or if sales are higher than expected.
The manager needs to be highly trained in excellent customer service. This type of service is called “wow” service because your customers will say “Wow!” about their experience at your restaurant.
One way to easily accomplish that “wow” experience is simply by telling your managers that every time they are in direct contact with any guest, that they are smiling, being friendly and attentive to the guests. If a famous person was coming to your restaurant, how would you treat that person? Every guest should be receive that same VIP treatment.
In case of a dissatisfied, angry, or irate customers, we recommend applying the GLAD technique. This will dramatically decrease customer related matters, and lead to customer recovery.
What is the GLAD Technique?
- Go to the guest
- Listen carefully to the guest
- Apologize to the guest
- Do what it takes to solve the problem
When approaching the upset customer, always shows genuine concern. It is important to listen to the guest without cutting them off. Make sure that you take the time to fully understand their concerns. Remain calm. Responding to anger in a calm manner may help reduce the person’s anxiety. Don’t be fake, be real.
Always apologize to the guest, even if the customer is wrong. Even when you are certain the person is wrong, go with the mindset that the person is right. Never offer excuses as to why the problem occurred, but offer solutions instead.
Solutions will vary depending on the complaint and the circumstances. Offer a solution and ask if this will meet the customer’s needs. Go above and beyond. Remember, one angry customer leads to other lost customers. Keep in mind that for each customer you lose, you will lose 11 customers within the next few weeks. That number will compound because those 11 people will also repeat what they heard from the first customer. Ultimately you could be losing hundreds of customers because of one dissatisfied customer. If the matter is serious, you could even lose your restaurant’s reputation, and the restaurant could end up being shut down.
Every customer that leaves your restaurant tells family, friends and co-workers about the experience at your restaurant. If the experience was mediocre they won’t say anything, but if it was very good experience at your restaurant they will tell others. If it was a negative experience and they walked out dissatisfied, then the reputation of your restaurant will be impacted. Negative feedback from your customers could mean the end of your business. Don’t underestimate the power of the word-of-mouth effect. Word-of-mouth will work with you or against you depending on the guest’s experience.
Do you really want to lose business because of customer complaints? Teaching effective customer service techniques to your managers and staff should be at the top of your to-do list.
Teach your managers to be proactive in preventing customer related matters. Manager presence in the dining room is a wonderful path to reduce customer complaints. The manager should spend at least 80% of his/her time in the dining room, and only 10% in the manager’s office.
The manager also needs to physically approach each customer’s table to ensure that WOW guest service is in effect. The manager also needs to learn how to detect negative body language and how to express positive body language.
How do customers show their dissatisfaction with their body language?
- When you are in direct eye-to-eye contact, you can witness the anger in the customer’s eyes.
- Seeing untouched food, especially when everybody at the table ate their food, except the one customer who barely touched his or her food.
- The manager asks the customer, “So how was your meal and service tonight?” The customer replies, “It’s okay”. If the customer was fully satisfied with both the service and the meal they may say it was “terrific” or “great,” not just “okay.”
- When you look at a guest and you get an uncomfortable “gut” feeling, act on that feeling.
- You see a customer looking around as though they want someone to help them. You may even see them glaring at a server speaking with other customers.
What is your body language saying?
- Always use direct eye contact when talking to your guests. Never look away while you are talking to your guest. Looking away gives the impression that you are not interested in what the other person has to say.
- Never cross your arms when talking to guests, this could be interpreted as shutting them out or anger.
- Never roll your eyes, as this is very disrespectful and it appears that you are belittling their concerns.
- Constantly listen to the guest even if they are angry. It may help to allow the person to vent their anger. Always acknowledge their feelings.
- Ask the customer what would improve the visit to your restaurant.
What do you do with Moody Customers?
This is your opportunity to turn around the customer’s mood from a bad to good. Make certain that you are on top of things and pay attention to details. If you have any concerns about their experience, you may even offer the table a free appetizer or dessert. It may seem like you are losing money by “giving away” food or “discounting” their meals; however, you will lose more money from each lost customer than you will for that one food item or meal. If you successfully turn things around, then you may create repeat business. Kindness and consideration of their needs will often overcome their anger.
A wise person said, “How you handle positive feedback is important, but it is more important to know how to handle negative feedback.” Make sure you tell the customers that you appreciate the fact that they took the time to tell you about their experience. Don’t make excuses, instead find solutions. Don’t disagree with the customer, even if you know the guest is wrong.
If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you are doomed to repeat them again and again.
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