In a customer-friendly service environment, romantic feelings may arise. But what happens if a customer crosses the line in your restaurant or cafe?

In a previous blog post we lovingly praised the barista and listed some reasons why people seem to fall in love with these coffee gods over and over again. But underneath all the daily pleasantries, the innocent flirting and the perhaps awkward crushes, there is also a more important issue.

What if the customer gets the wrong idea and puts you in an uncomfortable position?

1. React strongly

By putting your foot down hard and instantly, you can scare off the most obnoxious offender. This strategy is helpful if you want to catch the attention of security or management, and it sends a clear message to anyone listening.

You’re going to a party this weekend? Lucky for you, we have an amazing brunch deal on Sundays.

The risk is sadly that you’re seen as a trouble-maker, and that customers will complain about the terrible service. Involve your boss to avoid surprises.

How can you transform the unwanted flirty behavior into profitable customer loyalty?

2. Turn love into loyalty

Sometimes, a compliment is just a flirty way of showing appreciation, and the person may as well be a loyal fan of the establishment because you are so amazing at what you do. Try to channel the infatuation towards a profitable loyalty for the business and remove focus from yourself.

– You want to connect? Sure, we have a popular Facebook page and a great Instagram account for you. You’re going to a party this weekend? Lucky for you, we have an amazing brunch deal on Sundays.

A short-term solution – rush off somewhere else.

3. Leave the room

Whenever a situation becomes uncomfortable or inappropriate, the most efficient way of breaking the tension is to rush off somewhere else – you excuse yourself politely because you just remembered to refill the ice bucket or do the dishes.

– If someone gets too pushy when I work at the bar, I think the easiest way is to brush it off and walk away for a while, says Maria, a bartender. Ask a coworker to cover for you.

4. Talk about it

It may not always be obvious to the people around you that you get uncomfortable by certain customer behaviour. Be frank with your colleagues, tell them where you draw the line and ask that you help each other keep your eyes open if something feels wrong.

The commentator Falcon_Heiress commented in a Reddit post:

– Involve your coworkers − not in the actual interaction, but to let them know it’s not a thing you are courting, just a thing that happens to you (and them). Don’t frame it as dudes hitting on you, but frame it as customers being unprofessional, which everyone can relate to. 

Let your professionalism speak for itself.

5. Be overly professional

When you feel trapped in awkwardness, lean on your impeccable professionalism. You can fence back by being overly polite and service-minded.

Like the Reddit user nerdscallmegeek writes in the aforementioned post (which is pretty good by the way):

’Do you get called beautiful very often?’ You could reply ‘Not usually in such a professional environment.’ In a joking manner that could give them the hint that they’re making things awkward.

When you feel trapped in awkwardness, lean on your impeccable professionalism.

If they start bugging you, keep your replies short and just get back to your work. DON’T laugh at their jokes. Ask ‘Is there anything else I can help you with sir?’, making the point that your interactions are purely work related also helps.

You’re under no obligation to reciprocate flirting with someone if they’re making you uncomfortable. At that point they’re not there for your service, they’re impeding your work and you could very well just ask them to leave if they get to that point.

iZettle for hospitality EPOS doesn’t deal with flirty and impolite customer behavior. However, it helps you offer a better customer experience with customised loyalty programs, promotional activities and more – all in the app. We hope it’ll take your cool off when you’re in an uncomfy customer situation!