When running a business, it’s inevitable that you’ll encounter some less-than-pleasant customers. And as the face of your brand, it’s important to know how to manage unhappy clients and make things right so that you can learn and move on from mishaps.
With these straightforward tips to dealing with difficult customers, you’ll be able to keep your cool in an uncomfortable situation and do what’s best for you, your business, and your patrons.
As a bakery owner, you’re as much part of the hospitality industry as you are part of the food and beverage industry. And the most important thing about good hospitality is keeping your customers happy. Of course, that can sometimes be easier said than done. It’s impossible to avoid complaints and other bumps in the road as your business grows.
Steps to Dealing with Difficult Customers
Many customers have high expectations when purchasing food out, so it can be difficult to always measure up to what they might expect from your business. What you can control, however, is how to respond to a disgruntled client. Use these customer service strategies to better manage and overcome difficult or unhappy bakery clients.
As a business owner, it can be hard to hear criticism about your products or the experience you’ve created for customers. But the most important first step you can take with an unhappy or complaining patron is to listen. As best you can, try to set aside your personal biases and feelings and hear what they have to say.
See Things from Their Perspective
While you listen to her side of the story, try to put yourself in her shoes. Remember, she’s paying for a certain experience. This way, you can better respond to any specific complaints.
Of course, if their requests are unreasonable or totally out of line, you can also respond accordingly. But first, make sure your customer feels heard and understood before making that judgment.
If a customer is growing increasingly agitated or her voice is rising, the best thing you can do is remain calm in response. Rising to her level of anger is only likely to frustrate her further and cause a scene that is likely to give other patrons a negative impression. By remaining patient, listening, and responding in a calm and measured way, you can maintain control of the situation as you try to set things right.
Offer a Solution
As the person in charge, it’s up to you to offer a solution to the problem. Consider what you’ve heard the customer express and the resources available to you to offer an amenable solution. The most important thing is to satisfy their immediate needs and respond to their current grievances.
And when it comes to setting things right, don’t hold back. No matter how unhappy a customer might appear in the moment, by going the extra mile to satisfy her complaints, you may still be able to turn things around. Often, a free service or refund is the best way to put an unhappy customer at ease.
And even if it might not feel justified to you, it may be worth it in the long run. Don’t forget that every customer has countless public platforms to share her experience with your business. Review sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter mean that everyone with a smartphone is a restaurant critic and can make their voice heard. So, while it might be painful, extending a generous offer to this one customer can make a big difference in your public image down the line.
Remember that as a business owner, these things will happen. Instead of dwelling on the encounter, turn it into a learning experience, and do your best to move on. And most importantly, don’t take this one customer’s poor experience personally. Everyone makes mistakes, and the more you can turn them into an educational experience, the better off you will be.
At the end of the day, as a business owner, you’ll inevitably have uncomfortable encounters with less-than-pleased patrons. But with these tips and strategies, you’ll be able to calmly confront, deflate, and move on from the situation without disrupting your business.