Posts Tagged ‘problems’

How to Deal with Irate Diners

January 19, 2011

We’ve all had to deal with them at one time or another – the unhappy diner who simply blows up at your waiter because they felt the service offered wasn’t appropriate. Sometimes, the complaints are legitimate, such as when a waiter picks up a plate that has fallen on the floor and proceeds to serve it anyway or if a particular order comes out so late that the food is cold.

However, just as often, we find that the problem is one of perception. Perhaps, the customer expected one thing but got something else. How we deal with these kinds of problems, though, can be quite interesting. Then here are a few tips on dealing with irate diners:

Allow Waiters to Offer to Exchange a Meal for Something Else

Most restaurateurs who are worth their salt know that it’s well worth the loss of a few dollars worth of food to keep a customer happy. Therefore, they do this as a matter of course if a customer complains. The only time this isn’t appropriate to do is if a customer becomes a habitual complainer.

Offer a Coupon or a Free Desert

Another common tactic most seasoned restaurateurs are familiar with in order to defuse a problem is to offer something extra thrown in to make up for the problem.

Allow the Customer to Come Back to Your Office

This is probably one you haven’t thought of to try; however, it’s a really useful tool. An irate diner often just wants someone to take their complaint seriously. If you ask them to step into the back office so you can discuss the problem, you are not only validating their concerns but potentially avoiding a disturbance other diners who may not want to listen to your customer’s complaints.

Keep Calm and Make Things Personal

Finally, we suggest that if you are dealing with an irate customer that you start out by offering your name and asking the customer for their name by saying, “Hi, I’m Bob. How can I help you Mr…?” Then you proceed to continue using the customer’s name and try to make it feel more like a relationship between friends rather than a confrontation.

You’re more likely to walk away from the experience with a satisfied repeat customer rather than someone who will badmouth your establishment to his friends. And of course, it also helps tremendously if you keep your own temper in check so that it doesn’t devolve into a test of who can scream the loudest.