You know you will meet them one day. Perhaps you have already met them. But did you handle them appropriately? The easiest ways to deal with difficult customers are to smile, nod and give in to their unreasonable demands, but there are ways that you can stay in control and not let them ruin your day, your customer service standards or your reputation.

1) The critical customer

The critical customer will evaluate every single detail and complain about it; from the way you fold the napkins to the temperature of the room. From the background music to the one minute delay on the delivery of the drinks.

How to deal with him:

The one rule that your employees have to remember is that they shouldn’t take all the criticism personally. If they do, they will be worn down in no time. Teach your staff how to discard the negativity and turn it into something positive. For instance, if the customer complains about his glass not being clean enough, say “I’m so sorry, Sir, I will bring you a new one right away.” Or if the meat is not cooked to his satisfaction, say “I’m so sorry, I will send it back to the kitchen and bring you a new one in no time.”

Often, critical customers are not unhappy because of you and your restaurant. Most likely, they bring their daily frustrations with them when going out for a meal. So remember, the criticism is not meant to hurt you; it’s just their way of letting out some steam. And if your staff can stay calm, the positivity will reflect onto your customer and he will leave with a good dining experience.

Read more: Top 7 tips to perfect customer satisfaction

2) The hurried customer

She’s tapping on the plate, squeezing the table cloth and desperately looking around the room. She’s clearly in a hurry. But that shouldn’t stress out your staff.

How to deal with her:

Let your waiters inform her about the duration of the service. For instance say “The burger will take ten minutes to make” or “I will be back with your drink in one minute.” By being very specific, you will quickly calm her down and she will be able to enjoy her rushed but yet nice meal.

3) The loud customer

The person who just talks over everything and everyone. He can be a pain in the you know what and he is not easy to deal with. Obviously, it’s great that he is having a good time in your restaurant and amongst the people he is with. But it can be disturbing to other guests.

How to deal with him:

If you have already seated the group with the loud customer, you can try to seat newcomers further away, so they are not disturbed too much. However, if the other customers start to complain, your staff will have to politely be very strict: “Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, but will it be possible for you to lower your voice just a bit?” The risk here of course is that the customer gets angry. So only turn to the last option if it is necessary.

Read more: 5 ways to improve your customer service

4) The late customer

It’s almost closing time. You and your employees have started to clean the tables. You can almost hear your bed calling out your name. And then the doors open up and a group of people are in the mood for a midnight snack. Do you greet them or send them away?

How to deal with them:

If your kitchen has closed and there is no more food, then the procedure is quite easy. It’s a simple “Sorry guys, we have closed for tonight. But come again tomorrow, we open at 9.00 am.” If your kitchen is still going, you have the opportunity to make a little extra cash. Invite them in and make them feel welcome, but explain that the food selection is limited as you’re closing soon.

Read more: Small tricks to make your restaurant a success

5) The drunk customer

The classic customer who has quenched his thirst on your amazing drinks all night. You have probably met this customer many times, but have you handled him correctly?

How to deal with him:

Drunk customers can be intimidating and cross some of your staff’s personal boundaries. But there are three trick that can help guide him out the door.

First, stop serving him alcohol when it’s getting to that point. Tell him nicely, “Sorry Sir, the bar is closed for tonight.“ Then, you could offer him something else instead of a drink: “What about a nice Ice Tea? Or perhaps a plate of our great snack selection?” Last but not least, you can call him a cab and let him know that a car is waiting for him outside to take him home. In this situation, it will be calming for your employees if you stay close and keep working the floor. And remember, most of the times, those customers will only stay for a short time and continue their fluent feast somewhere more appropriate.

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Lisa Andersen
Lisa Andersen Content Editor
Part of Planday’s content team in Copenhagen, Lisa is into yoga and loves good writing. Her experience includes working with communication and PR for international grassroots organizations in Argentina and Bolivia.