You might serve the most amazing Banoffee pie or make the best latte in the UK, you’re not preserved from some angry customers walking in your café every now and again. No stress.
Here are some tricks to help you keep your cool and blow their mind with your service ninja skills.
1. It’s not you, it’s…
…the long waiting line, the lack of cream on that latte or they might even just have woken up on the wrong foot. What’s important here is that you don’t take the anger as being directed towards you personally. Your priority will be to switch to a customer service mindset. The person in front of you is upset. Your job is to find out what this is about, to understand why, and to do something to fix it.
Listen actively. Ask questions to make sure you get the issue. Throw in some statement to show that you’re on his or her side (think something like, “Let’s go over what happened”).
Things that should be banned from your vocabulary? “Calm down”; “&%€!” or simply *Silence*.
Is the customer getting too loud or abusive? Respond by speaking softly. Show empathy. Kill with a smile.
Try to make a joke to lighten the mood and you may find that the customer will relax a little bit, which will for sure help resolving the conflict.
2. But why?
We’ve established that whatever you do, you’ll have angry clients. They just happen. But see them as a great opportunity to improve. You “just” need to find out what are the small details you need to correct for your business to boom.
Was the request reasonable? Was your staff so overwhelmed that it took 50 min to serve a plate of ham and cheese? Are you perhaps charging for air? Then yeah, the customer can understandably be angry (might be ok if your restaurant is on the Moon though). On the other hand, asking for a well done steak tartare, or not to be seated next to the pizza oven for fear of gluten; might be regarded as absurd original requests. If that’s the case, you’ll have to take a decision. Is this a valuable, returning customer that tips well?
3. Do something about it!
Here’s your opportunity to shine. That returning customer might get upset simply because he or she doesn’t feel taken care of enough. Have you ever thought about introducing some sort of loyalty program?
If you’re already using iZettle, check the activity reports to get a better view of your busiest days/hours, and staff accordingly to avoid long lines and waiting time.
Don’t hesitate to share more with your customers. Be open. Customers are humans. Humans tend to calm down when they understand what’s up.
Take the right actions and you’ll create that “wow” moment that will make your customers want to come back again. And again and again.