There’s no going around it, when you’re in the hospitality business, you’re going to deal with lots of irate, irrational and very angry people.
Most of the day you’ll have mellow, friendly customers that are pleased with the meal and on their way, but once in a while you’ll get someone whose parents obviously haven’t spent enough time with them.
Here are some tips that can help you deal with it.
It Might Not Be Your Fault
Sometimes people have horrible days, they get fired, their SO cheats on them, or something else happens. Sometimes it’s really tragic like the death of a loved one or a miscarriage.
You might think that you’re the worst cook in the world when they start arguing or insulting you, but it’s more likely that they’ve had a horrible day and now they’re just lashing out at the first person they can.
Make sure to keep your cool and calm (and train your employees to do this too), apologize and go on with your work. Correct the order, give them a free drink if they really earned it, and mind your own business. If the person keeps coming at you, call the police.
Yes, sometimes people have tragic events in their life, but it still doesn’t mean that they have the right to bully or harass you.
It Might Be Your Fault
Maybe you got their order wrong, maybe your employee was rude. Offer to make it up to the customer, and better yet, ask the customer what would make it right. While it might be a reflex to offer them a free meal, you might get some other solution. Maybe you even gave them a meal that went bad. Or prepared their lobster rolls wrong.
Some customers are okay with a free drink or something else rather than an entire free meal. Other customers just want to tell you that their order is wrong, and you should just pay attention in the future.
Some people have a very strong sense of justice and want to make the world right; giving them a free meal is almost insulting. Listen to them and apologize and they’ll most likely be fine.
They Just Might Be Crazy or Violent
It’s extremely rare to get a truly entitled or crazy customer, and it’s best if you call the police. If they keep harassing you, or threatening with violence, it’s best that you just call the cops. Check this video out to see what can happen; avoid the irate customer and call the cops!
Protect yourself if you can, close the window down and keep some distance away from the violent person. These things almost never happen, but it’s best to be prepared.
Keep on Trucking
Water under the bridge. The angry customer will go away, and you’ll be back to serving everyone else. Hopefully, if they were irate, violent or entitled, they’ll avoid you for good from now on.
If they were someone with a strong sense of justice and you fixed your mistake, you have a new regular. If they were someone whose order you accidentally got wrong and then made it right (with a free soda), you most likely have a regular now.
Most situations will resolve themselves in a good way, and you’ll be back to work either way. Don’t let the memories upset you, and don’t relieve the moments when the incident happened.
It’s something that every hospitality and food service worker has to go through (especially when catering to a high stress event like a wedding or a quinceanera), and you’ll be fine.