The old saying that the customer is always right isn’t always the case. Sometimes the customer is wrong, but it is not your job as a business owner or manager to tell them that. If you are in any type of service industry, you probably already know this.
In a real situation, dealing with an angry customer isn’t always the easiest thing to do. The other challenge is getting your team members to handle the situation as well as you would.
Here are some steps we use at our restaurants to help us resolve customer service issues.
A – Always start with an apology
Even if it isn’t your fault, giving an apology breaks the barrier between you and the guest. It shows that you genuinely want to help make it right.
B – Be on the guest’s side
Advocate for the guest. This lets them know you are with them and not against them. Listen carefully to the customer’s concerns. Understand what the issue is, accept responsibility and start to resolve the problem.
C – Create a quick solution
Think fast. Put yourself in the guest’s seat and think about what you’d like to be done if it happened to you. Your timing can make or break the experience. Most service issues do not need a manager to resolve. Hire team members who are quick on their feet. Train them on handling small complaints so the guest is not left waiting around. Sometimes offering little things, like a drink, can go a very long way.
D – Don’t neglect the guest
Follow through and take care of the guest after the issue is resolved. It is 10 times harder to get a customer to come back through those doors once they have already left. Do everything in your power to make that guest happy before they leave. This may be the only chance they give you.
In a real-world example, a guest has been waiting an extremely long time for their food and is very upset. You can tell by their body language that they are “hangry” — the new term for anger due to being hungry. What do you do?
1) Check in with the guest and find out what the issue is. Apologize and start to create a solution.
2) Let them know you will be checking on their food. Check the time the order was placed and follow up with the kitchen. Let the kitchen make the dish right away.
3) Think of something quick that you can offer the guest while they wait. A free side salad, soup or bread will help to suppress their hunger. Apologize again and let them know the food will be out soon. Stand by the kitchen and make sure the food is being made quickly. Bring it out to the table and thank them for being patient.
4) Follow through after a couple minutes. See if their meal was prepared to their satisfaction. If they aren’t completely happy, then offer a dessert. Check on the guest periodically. Before they leave, apologize one last time and re-assure them, “We will do better next time.” Thank them for their business and invite them back again soon.
The majority of the time, the guest isn’t angry at you; they are angry at the situation. So don’t take it personally. You must always keep your cool. As long as you know that you’ve tried your very best to make that guest happy, that is the most you can do.