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4 Tips For Dealing With Difficult Customers

January 27, 2022
customer order at bar

Rude people have always been an unfortunate part of working in the service industry. Sadly, COVID hasn’t helped this reality. While some customers may tip more and be more appreciative of wait staff working to serve them during a pandemic, many customers take their general and specific disappointments out on servers, bartenders, cashiers, and others.

It may seem that having fewer customers at one time would make serving easier, but what it’s amounted to are fewer servers waiting widely-distanced areas. Servers have reported walking 30,000 to 50,000 steps in one shift, but this isn’t the cause for complaint… It’s the anger of customers who don’t want to adhere to pandemic-related regulations, the less-than-ideal level of support from managers who may be hesitant to alienate customers right now, and the $0 tips for servers who attempt to deal with it on their own. Aside from specific complaints about mask-wearing or other requirements, some servers feel the pandemic has generally brought out the worst in customers.  Here are 4 tips servers, managers, and other service industry employees can take to deal with difficult customers in the current climate:


Be as proactive as possible in communicating expectations

Customers should be informed of health and safety rules as soon as possible when first interacting with the establishment. If they call first, explain it then. If they arrive first, immediately inform them. People are more likely to get irritated if they feel it was sprung on them. Even if everyone should already know the rules, customers may not have them firmly in mind when deciding to go out. Reminding them early-on is less likely to inflame things. If a customer does get angry, it’s much easier to deal with when they are not already seated or in the middle of the establishment. Keep rules posted prominently at the entrance and inside the establishment.


Try to be empathetic

As ridiculous as a customer may be, your life will be easier if they think you get where they’re coming from. Try indicating to them that you “get it” and that you know how annoying the rules are and wish you didn’t have to bring them up. Blame whatever authority is requiring it, whether it’s the state, the municipality, or your employer, and apologize for the crappy situation.


Don’t let it get to you personally

We know this is much easier said than done, and we share this suggestion out of concern for the well-being of servers and sellers, not customers. Any customer being rude to you about basic safety requirements has issues, and whatever those issues are, you aren’t one of them. In the end, you can’t help this person with their ultimate problem, all you can do is make things as easy on yourself as possible while doing your job. Don’t let yourself forget that rude customers are likely very unhappy people, and their behavior says a lot about them and nothing about you.


Walk away and get your manager involved

If you’ve exhausted all options and the customer is still being rude, disrespectful, or overly difficult, then walk away and get your manager involved. There’s nothing else you can do at that point, and nothing productive will result from you unnecessarily subjecting yourself to abusive behavior. Instead, let your manager deal with it.


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Finally, it helps to remember the pandemic has also brought out the best in some customers. Many are more patient, more appreciative, and more willing to be generous with tips. At BASSET On The Fly, we’re hoping these customers find their way to you far more often than the rude ones! Get your On-Premise or Off-Premise BASSET certification fast for just $12.99 today!

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