Tips for Handling Aggressive Restaurant Customers

No matter how excellent your customer service is, you will always encounter the occasional aggressive customer. You cannot avoid them; sooner or later, you will encounter them. If you've worked in the hospitality industry, you've already had to deal with an aggressive customer or two.

Customer satisfaction is always the top priority in the hospitality and restaurant industry, so it's essential to know how to handle aggressive customers in a way that will diffuse the situation and leave the customer satisfied.

Six Tips for Handling Aggressive Customers

Setting up and maintaining a good customer relationship is critical to your hospitality and restaurant industry. According to the Business News Daily customer satisfaction survey of over 700 customers, about 80 percent said they would shift to a competitor due to bad customer service. 

While customers should always feel valued, some may not be easy to deal with. Learning how to respond to an aggressive customer is a crucial step for any restaurant owner. 

Having trained staff to handle customer complaints is essential. These tips for managing aggressive customers can take you from the beginning of a conflict to a peaceful and amicable resolution.

1. Your Customer Should Feel Appreciated

The fundamental principle of any customer service is that, no matter what, your customer should feel appreciated. Listen to them and apologize if they are unsatisfied with the food or service. It is critical to offer compensation as a discount on the bill or dish. 

When disagreeing with your customers, stay calm and politely resolve their grievances. It might be impossible to accommodate all customer requests, but you can make them feel valued. Be civil no matter what. 

Remember, humility is an investment in customer management because they deserve extra personal attention. The secret is to give them what they ask for. Surprisingly, even aggressive customers calm down when treated with respect and patience.

2. Prepare for Aggressive Customers

Prepare all your staff for problems that may arise. Various studies suggest that aggressive hospitality and restaurant industry customers have become an essential safety subject. So, ensure that you establish a plan of action for dealing with problems resulting in dangerous situations. 

Discuss when to get managers involved if some customers feel they can harass the workers if they are not in a position of authority to act about it. Learn to keep communication open to address any concerns that may arise. 

Besides this, ask your employees how they want to see things handled to remain secure in their work environment.

3. Protect Your Staff

Fortunately, many restaurants have secret buttons employees can press during emergencies; these call security and on-site managers, thus, connecting directly to the law enforcement agency. 

The buttons are usually placed near the cash registers or underneath, helping prevent robberies, theft, and walkouts. The challenge with traditional security measures is that danger does not always happen near the cash registers but anywhere in the restaurant. 

Aggressive customers can turn violent before staff members can reach the buttons to call for help. A sure option is having wireless panic buttons since they do not need an alarm or a direct connection to a phone line. 

You can set them anywhere in the restaurant. Backup connectivity and Bluetooth offer reliable contact in weaker cell phone services and Wi-Fi areas, resulting in a safer environment because it is always available in the building.

4. Reflective Listening

When anger flares and someone says, "I understand or agree, but.." do you feel better? Not really. Remember, affirmation does not make things better but only adds to the frustration. 

Rather than using the dreaded "but," listen to your customers and positively understand their concerns. If you can solve the issue or provide an alternative when possible, it is all that counts. 

For instance, you may say, "I see that you are upset because your food arrived cold. I would be too. Let me take care of this for you." or "I'm sorry that our service was not up to your standards. What can we do to make it right?" 

Reflective listening makes all your customers feel heard and understood. It helps them reflect positively when their demands get fulfilled.

5. Keep Calm

The essential rule of hospitality is to keep calm and maintain cool composure. Handling issues with a certain level of professionalism provides your customer with a sense of relief, knowing that every case is handled appropriately and with understanding. 

Customers mirror emotions, so if you are understanding and friendly, they will automatically reflect your positivity. All in all, there are people you will never satisfy, no matter what you do. 

Most aggressive customers refuse to see anything but their troubles. Restaurants struggling with food shortages and staff frequently deal with this entitlement. 

They see rude behavior and character from diners, such as throwing away their orders once they are ready and refusing to pay for the food they have already consumed. 

At this point, calming down becomes very crucial. Encourage your staff not to engage with aggressive customers.

6. Follow up

To build your relationship with the customer, follow up in a few days to ensure they are satisfied with your services. Then, you can send them a gift certificate or an email or call them. 

It is also vital to follow up with your restaurant to determine why the situation occurred. Then, make the required changes to avoid a recurrence of the problem. 

For instance, a late order indicates that the employees made it to the office late, so you should implement a revised schedule. 

Above all, if a customer is aggressive towards your employees, you should consider safety first. Nevertheless, finding a solution to the customer's complaint is vital.

Final Thoughts

It is vital to remember that customers will always be the reason your business exists, so you should go the extra mile to ensure they remain happy. 

Also, it is challenging to please everyone, so do not strive for perfection. Instead, focus on offering the best possible experience to your customers. 

Lastly, do not forget to implement security measures in your restaurant to safeguard your employees and customers.