How To deal with difficult restaurant customers
Updated: Sep 10
As much as we try to please our customers, sometimes we encounter people who– for one reason or another– display negative behavior.
What can a restaurateur do to avoid a confrontation with these people in your establishment, and how do you neutralize (and perhaps eliminate) their disruptive behavior?
This is not an easy task.
It might help you to remember: most of the time, these people are using your restaurant or your employees in order to vent their personal frustrations.
Sometimes people come to your place bringing along their emotional baggage. It would be great if they could leave it at home, but unfortunately, they don’t.
Disgruntled customers are inevitable, regardless of your every effort to create an enjoyable dining experience. The potential of mismatched visions of required service and quality between customers and servers cannot be avoided. Whether the food, service, customers’ temperament acts as the catalyst of the dispute, you must deal with it in a professional way. Let’s explore steps to handle dissatisfied customers.
Offer more modifications: You’ve worked hard to create your menu, and your staff takes pride in knowing the ins and outs of each item. But as a restaurateur, your primary responsibility is to the customer– so if you’re noticing more modification requests in your POS reports, it may be time to consider switching up your menu to more readily accommodate your guests.
Stay one step ahead of the picky patron and make it easier for them to pick and choose. They can’t shred your menu to pieces if you already have! Create a ‘Make Your Own Burger’ section on your menu, offer a variety of add-ons for salads, or even let your patrons build their own cocktail.
Highlight common allergies: Allergies are becoming much more common and diverse, so be sure to label any common allergens that can be found in each dish under the item’s name in your menu. But don’t wait for your customers to scan the whole menu– ask your servers to identify the dishes that may cause an allergic reaction. Does your Mediterranean Chicken Salad contain peanuts? Bold that ingredient in the item’s description. Are your chicken fingers battered in dairy? Let your customers know. The last thing you want is for your customers’ allergies to go unnoticed. When you highlight common allergens, you’ll remove the guesswork behind what your patrons can and can’t eat.
Embrace the chef’s table: If you can’t beat them, join them. Open the eyes, ears, and stomachs of the pickiest patrons with the chef’s table experience.When your customers understand why you choose certain ingredients over others they will be more likely to understand how each ingredient works together to create the final meal.
But before you start, ask your diners about their dietary restrictions and apply them to the food you’re preparing. Show them how to enjoy your restaurant’s most popular dishes, within the limitations of their strict diets.
The educational experience of the chef’s table will help you impress even the pickiest of your patrons.
Feature your specialty items: Does your restaurant offer specialty items for patrons who are lactose intolerant? Do you offer vegetarian and vegan options as well? Use icons on your menu to help them stand out. The faster they’re able to order their food, the faster you can watch your ‘nemesis’ walk out your restaurant’s doors with a smile (yes, you read that right) on their face.
Bill splitting: You may have impressed your picky customers with your food, but don’t underestimate their pickiness. Your patrons could be waiting for all meal long to strike.
A server’s worst nightmare– having to split the bill in a million and one ways. Keeping track of who ordered what can be a very tedious process, especially if your records are written on a small notepad. So why not ditch the paper and bring on a POS that can help you easily split bills between patrons?!
Win all your battles by clarifying your ingredients, educating your customers, and perfecting the split bill– your sanity will thank you!
Turn Customer Complaints Into New Business: Today’s customers have a variety of outlets available to leave feedback. It’s essential to understand each one and respond to every review, every time. Brands that do so are more likely to retain customers and attract new ones as the simple act of responding with full transparency differentiates your business and lets consumers know you care.
For restaurants, a bad experience isn’t just about the food. A special occasion such as an anniversary could be ruined by a negative experience. In those cases, instead of sending a gift card, some franchises have gone above and beyond expectations by having flowers delivered to a customer’s home with a letter of apology. This is just one example of how a business can be sincere, creative and build long term goodwill.
Once a complaint or 1-star rating is identified, if the issue is turned over to the location manager they’re usually capable of resolving it quickly. As the customer already established a relationship with your brand’s nearest location, they’re likely to be more satisfied if the problem is resolved there
Over 90% Of Customers Trust Online Reviews. Don’t Scare Them Away By Being Unresponsive.
By taking the time to address negative feedback, brands can capture an opportunity to turn haters into advocates, and undecided prospects into happy customers.
Many tools and services help you respond to complaints across networks, but there is only one that was designed specifically for multi-location restaurants.
DiniROS is the pre-eminent partner to best-of-breed hospitality chains and enterprising, on-premise, emergent bar & restaurant brands like yours. Whether it be our measured marketing services, proven promotions or fully automating your restaurant, DiniROS can deliver revenue and returns through a transformative and translatable experience in your venue.
Contact us to get started now! Get in touch with a software sales representative today.