Introduction – Diffuse Difficult Situations
Despite your best efforts, there will be moments when you and your staff encounter guests who are disgruntled and dissatisfied. The way you deal with these types of situations will affect not only how you bounce back from that particular situation but it will also carry over to your restaurant’s general atmosphere. Staff that are oriented and prepared for conflict resolution are better prepared to deal with the routine hiccups that are a common part of running a restaurant.
Be What You Want to See
The most important thing to remember when facing an upset guest is to demonstrate the attitude you want them to mirror. You guest most likely will exhibit a raised voice, frustration, and strong emotions. Your voice should maintain a level pitch and your overall demeanor should always remain calm. It takes two people to argue; if your staff does not provide an opportunity for confrontation, you disarm the antagonist.
Make Eye Contact
Appropriate eye-contact is an important skill. Excessive and limited eye contact are both associated with negative interaction: excessive eye contact can be intrusive and limited eye-contact typically signals avoidance. Confrontational situations are instances in which it is appropriate to make more eye-contact than you typically would typically employ. You need to convey to your guests that you are actively listening to their compliant. Irritated people will often pounce on any evidence that you are dismissing their complaint. Leave no room for misunderstanding.
Lastly, there are situations where you encounter an unfounded complaint. There are people who enjoy complaining. In situations such as these, you must walk a narrow bridge between attending to their complaint while not admitting to non-existent deficiencies. A general apology or a complimentary beverage are examples of appropriate gestures or goodwill in these types of situations.
If you’re not careful, a disgruntled guest can derail your restaurant by their negativity and the poor impression they can make on your other guests. Prepare your staff to meet these types of guests with a resolution oriented perspective.
Challenge: walk through a mock challenging situation with your staff and give them concrete examples of how to productively approach the situation.
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