The customer is almost never right. There I said it.
This simple statement probably goes against everything you have ever learned about customer service. That mentality must be shot and buried immediately.
The new philosophy and saying is “the customer is king”. I have my issues with this mentality as well, but overall it’s far more accurate.
Look, customers, even professional foodies know very little about what it takes to produce a quality meal in a timely fashion to the liking of each individual in the dining room. Customers have the right to complain and critique because they are paying for it.
While you should always do your best to satisfy your guest to the best of your ability (based on the skill of both the front and back of the house) I give you this warning.
Do not give in to terrorists.
I’m talking about guests who are simply never satisfied and live for nothing but to complain. All they do is threaten to write poor reviews about the restaurant and tell all their friends how bad your place is.
These are the same customers who harass staff and treat them like peasant servants from the mid-evil age. This is unacceptable human behaviour!
You have the right and responsibility to control what type of customer base you have. I’m not talking about racial, gender or age prejudice. I simply mean do not let abusive degenerates dine at your establishment.
But I Need Their Money…
I don’t care how much they spend. In the long term, it will start to affect the performance and morale of all the staff. I’m serious. I’ve seen it happen more than once. Look, numbers are everything. I get that… But ensuring an atmosphere that makes people want to come back to is more important.
The turnover rate for hospitality staff is already high enough. Why make it worse when you can control it?
Right now you’re asking how do I do that?
You implement a program with the front of the house on how to deal with customers like these. You have to remain professional and respectful yet firm and strict when talking to these often times delusional people.
Each program will be different for every establishment, but overall will achieve the same goal. It is essential to the survival of your business. Again this goes against probably everything you have been taught.
While we need customers, we don’t need them all. If you’re respected and established in your community, you owe it to your regulars to keep the place free of monsters because they will find another place if that’s the case.
The last thing you need are customers that create an adverse and toxic environment. There is a fine line between a picky, demanding customer and a complete ungrateful person who’s sole goal is to make themselves feel superior and have all the power over YOUR business.
Customers are not always right. As a business, it’s your job to determine first how skilled is your staff in dealing with difficult customers, then determine what the absolute line for customer tolerance is. There is a line once it’s crossed that’s not worth staff or even management’s time. Regular meetings with your team will help you greatly in that decision-making process. Again all this affects staff morale, your image and reputation and potentially your cash flow in the long run. Take it seriously.
Do not let an extreme type of customer hold you and your business at gunpoint.