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How Can you Handle Rude Clients in a Bar or Restaurant

For those who work in the bar and restaurant industry, they will agree with me that word of mouth and person-to-person reviews are everything to growing a business. As a bar or a restaurant owner/manager, the success of the business relies on each customer’s experience and what they tell other people. Patrons come in all shapes and sizes. Just as there are great customers, there can be difficult ones as well. 

One would wonder why customers are so rude and this is very common amongst bartenders and waiters(es) and learning how to deal with rude customers will benefit your staff and your business as a whole. 

Your reaction to a rude customer is how other guests will judge your business reputation and image. If you uphold your authority and solve the situation quietly and swiftly, you’ll gain even more respect from observers.

If you talk to any bar or restaurant worker, chances are they’ve been on the receiving end of harassment when interacting with customers. Further, they may say they’re afraid to tell managers out of fear of retaliation and this is bad news for restaurant owners and managers. Low morale can lead to high employee turnover.

One of the worst experiences while managing a bar or a restaurant is having an upset customer air their grievances and make a scene. Not only can it cause you to become flustered and overwhelmed, but other clients stop their conversations to witness the scene.

This rude customer has just set the stage for you to uphold your business’s image and integrity in front of an audience. You must handle this situation gracefully and with authority while keeping it from disrupting your other guests.

Remain calm and poised; As a rude customer confronts you with their complaints and issues, it’s essential that you remain calm and poised. Even if they seem very upset, and their blood pressure increases, you must resist matching their level of emotion. Body language is important in this situation as you don’t want to seem weak, but you also don’t want to seem intimidating. When you remain composed as a customer becomes disruptive, you will give an air of authority and better represent your restaurant.

Listen Attentively to the Customer; As your customer is in front of you complaining, this is your chance to listen to them attentively. Show them that you care about what they are saying and want to remedy the situation. Body language plays a significant role when handling a rude customer. To make them feel heard, make eye contact with them and lean in. Seeing that you are actually listening may cause them to calm down.

Don’t just make it look like you’re listening; though. Actually, listen to what your customer is complaining about and internalize it. If you find that multiple customers have had the same concerns, it’s time to strategize and find a way to fix the issue.

Respond with an Apology and a Solution; Once you’ve listened and heard your customer’s complaints, it’s your turn to speak. First, apologize for the mistake or issue. Take responsibility and do not put the blame on the customer. This can be difficult, but it’s important to swallow pride and accept that a mistake may have been made.

When speaking to the customer, use their name if possible; Saying his or her name while communicating will make them feel heard and cared for. After apologizing for the mishap, offer a solution. Whether you move the customer to another table, bring out another meal, offer to replace the drink, or whatever it may be, do not leave the situation unattended.

Offer Compensation; If you cannot present an immediate solution, offer the customer compensation. This can be in the form of a free drink or dessert, a discounted meal, or whatever you may see fit for the situation at hand.

In conclusion, it is paramount to have in mind that the client who’s arguing or having a misunderstanding with you is not your biggest challenge at hand but the audience around him or her and what you want them to take home without explaining anything to each of them. The below are key points that might help you as an employee or restaurant and bar business owner. 

  • If a customer constantly interrupts, keep your answers short and to the point.
  • Condescending patrons should be met without fear and increased eye contact. Trust your skills.
  • Politeness goes a long way but a clear “no” can still be polite.
  • Patience is key. Impatient customers are common but don’t over-rush your service to satisfy one of the numerous customers at your bar that might land you into losses or other bigger mistakes
  • Try to not take anything personally.
  • A genuine smile can make a seemingly unhappy customer into a loyal patron.
  • Improvisation is important, especially when dealing with overly-drunk individuals. Cut someone off when you deem it necessary and more often than not, their friends will back you up.
  • Attend to the needy guests but not to the point where other guests’ experience is affected. All customers are equal.

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