Customers really aren’t interested in your staff shortages or that your suppliers have let you down or that the ‘x’ machine is broken. But most people are very understanding – if you have to refuse a particular request, if it’s for positive reasons explain why. They’ll be annoyed if a dish isn’t available, and they certainly don’t want to hear it’s because someone forgot to order something, or the supplier has let you down. However they’ll probably be less annoyed if they’re told it’s because something has been more popular than ever this evening, but that you’ve got a lovely alternative which you’re sure they’ll enjoy just as much.
They don’t want to hear excuses, so if they’re annoyed they’ve been kept waiting because you’re short staffed, that’s not really their problem and all they want to know is what you’re doing about it!
And despite your best efforts there’ll be times when all they are interested in is having their say and having someone listen to them, and an opportunity to let off steam.
Better they do that to you than on Facebook, Twitter or TripAdvisor! So listen, show you understand their frustration or disappointment, and offer an alternative.
So in summary to make the best of a bad situation and minimise the negative emotions and potential issues raised from customers
- Let customers know at the earliest opportunity when there may be a problem that might impact them, so they can make a decision on whether to wait or risk it, or whether to change or cancel their choice.
- Let them know when what you’ve promised can’t be delivered so they can plan accordingly
- Use positive words and phrases
- Find a way to say yes: Offer an alternative or give the customer a number of options
- Listen and allow customers to let off steam to vent their frustration or disappointment
- Be sensitive to the emotional needs of your customers (smiling may not always be appropriate)
- Offer something by way of a reasonable compensation to show you appreciate their patience or inconvenience
- Provide information in a confident and reassuring manner
- Make a note about what you have agreed to do
- Confirm what has been agreed at the end of the conversation
- And most of all admit to any mistakes on your part. Don’t be too proud to apologise.
Your customers will appreciate your honesty and this all helps to keep the trust and relationship sweet, so your customers remain loyal.