How To Deal With Rude Customers in Restaurants: Tips & Strategy

Rude customers are a common problem whether you’re selling online or offline. However, dealing with rude customers in a restaurant can be quite a pain. Even the most renowned restaurants often come across such inconvenience.

Before making assumptions about these rude customers, it is important to know that there are two types of rude customers. The first type has a valid reason that makes matters worse when they run out of patience. The second type is just looking for trouble and nothing else.

Nevertheless, if you own a restaurant or work at one, you must know how to deal with each type accordingly. Good or bad, the customer is always right and you must provide the service.

Mainly because they can leave a review that will impact your business. Therefore, keep your cool and continue reading.

The Two Types of Difficult Customers

The restaurant business is one of the most profitable yet most difficult ones. You have to interact with all sorts of people daily and some might not be as pleasant as the others.

Nevertheless, as a professional, you must keep your composure and not give in to any intrusive or aggressive thoughts.

Coming to the rude customers bit, as aforementioned, you will encounter two common types. They are as follows:

1. Customers with Bad Experience Or Allergies

Often some customers are rude but you cannot blame them. They have had prior bad experiences by indulging in underperforming restaurants where the experience was unpleasant.

It is human nature to expect the worst based on experiences. Therefore, they might not be as pleasant and open to your restaurant and treat you indifferently as their self-defense mechanism.

These are your priority customers, that are normally defined as vulnerable customers. They have already given previous restaurants multiple chances and don’t have the patience to give you one.

In addition, there might be customers with allergies and not present them right then and there. Be extra careful with them, and show extra care and quality. Listen to what they have to say and ask them if they have any particular allergies.

If you manage to sway these customers, you will end up earning their loyalty and they will give you staggering five-star reviews.

2. Rude Customers

As the name suggests, they are plain rude. These customers may be abusive, repulsive, and threatening without a reason. They believe that you owe them what they are expecting and they can treat you as they please.

They have a slight understanding of the system and purely exploit it for no good. On the other hand, there are also the rude ones that tend to take out their frustration from elsewhere on their service providers.

You will need an entirely different approach to deal with them and a lot of patience.

5 Rules of Handling Rude Customers in a Restaurant

Dealing with rude customers is not as easy because sooner or later, one’s patience runs out regardless of being a professional or not. However, when you rationalize it and think of rude customers as a problem that needs to be solved, it becomes less frustrating.

Here are the essential rules on how to deal with rude customers:

1. Listen More and Speak Less

A lot of rude customers are probably having a bad day and they probably had someone else take it out on them. Now, this doesn’t mean it's fair play for them to vent out on you. But, all they need is to be heard and understood.

Avoid folding arms or any visible annoyance towards them. If they are frustrated, just listen to them and show that they have your undivided attention.

2. Don’t Argue or Justify

Do not argue with the customer or justify yourself. Stay as neutral as you can and respond in a neutral tone. This ensures that you are paying attention and take their concern seriously. If you get defensive, they will get more infuriated and things will certainly escalate.

Your goal is to neutralize the situation and calm down the customer. It does not matter if they are lying, lack information, or are entirely wrong.

3. Show Empathy Without Being a Phony

You cannot put fire out with fire. The same applies to angry customers and you need to convince them that you are in agreement with them and understand them. Limit your empathy to a certain level so you don’t push it all the way to “pitying them”.

Just keep calm in terms of body language and facial expressions. Show the customer you are there to help them and you will do it.

4. Address Them By Using Their Name

First and most importantly, if this is allowed in your region and setting, address the customer by their name. Addressing someone by their name depicts sincerity and appreciation, you acknowledge them as a person and are there for them.

Based on the setting, you can use the first, last, or full name of the customer to personalize the conversation. It is commonly believed service providers have a “textbook” for responses, and the customer feels as if they are talking to a robot.

Using their name immediately breaks that image and the customer is now more open to talk with you rather than lash out at you.

5. Keep Your Voice Low

Numerous studies have shown that when two people conversate, it is natural for them to mirror the other person’s voice. Therefore, if you keep your voice lower, and speak calmly, this will make the rude customer subconsciously attempt to match you.

Maybe they might remain loud but it will be somewhere close to your voice. 

Final Thoughts

There is no specified right way to deal with rude customers. But there are always approaches you can take to avoid taking a loss for your business. However, the first step is to recognize if they are fixable or not.

That is to say, applying the approaches will take energy and patience and if you can recognize the problem creator, it will help. 

You can then navigate whether you need to help them with a solution or simply listen and let them leave on their own because they are intentionally going to negatively impact your restaurant.

Nevertheless, running a restaurant isn’t that easy but with practice and patience, you can deal with most of the rude customers.


Written by joao-q

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