Dealing with a Dissatisfied Customer

Learn to deal with uncomfortable situations

One of the most important skills a restaurant owner has to develop is handling a dissatisfied customer in a way that resolves the problem. In situations where a customer complaint occurs, the complaint must be addressed immediately and the cause of the complaint must be rectified to win back their confidence in your services. A dissatisfied customer may be in a fit of anger, but listen quietly to the entire complaint and apologize for any unhappiness your restaurant has caused. Analyze the problem, and offer the possible solutions that your restaurant can provide to resolve the customer’s complaint.

Step 1
    Listen to your customer complaint about the restaurant in a helpful, polite, courteous and flexible manner. Make the customer feel that your restaurant management is always there to hear the problem, and resolve the customer complaint in all possible ways.

Step 2
    Make an apology to the dissatisfied customer at first for the breakdown or failure that he or she has identified even if you think the customer has misidentified, mischaracterized, or exaggerated the problem.  The usual effect of the apology is to neutralize the anger and frustration the customer is feeling when voicing a complaint.

Step 3 
   Identify the problem and provide an explanation for how or why the problem happened. If it is your mistake, make an apology for the inconvenience your restaurant has caused. If the customer complaint about the restaurant is a misidentified one, try to help the customer understand the facts.

Step 4
    Be honest to customers and give them an assurance that your restaurant will promptly take the appropriate corrective action and will prevent future breakdowns of this kind.

Step 5 
   Resolve the customer complaint as soon as possible. Keep your customers informed of steps being taken to solve the problem, in a positive and clear manner.

Step 6
    Monitor the solutions you have implemented and make any suitable changes to ensure that no further problems occur.
Tips and Warnings
  • Express empathy when a customer becomes dissatisfied with your restaurant or service.
  • Realize complaints are a good thing, as complaints give you insight, as well as the opportunity to resolve the problem.
  • Never smile with a sensitive customer when he is giving you a piece of his mind. It may be misconstrued as a smirk and may worsen the situation.
  • Ignoring complaints or dealing with a dissatisfied customer in a dishonest manner can result in loss of business or even lawsuits.
  • Don't make excuses or get defensive if a customer complains about your food or any other aspect of your restaurant.  Accept the customer's criticism with sensitivity and focus on rectifying the situation.