When you’re part of the food truck industry, it goes without saying that from time to time, you will encounter rude customers. And whether an unhappy customer is warranted in their unhappiness or not, how you and your food truck staff handle the situation is important. Keep in mind that part of building a mobile food business is creating long-term relationships.
But when there is a disruption, don’t forget that your potential for relationship doesn’t only exist with the unhappy customer. There is also potential with every person standing near your truck. Don’t let one upset customer ruin the experience for everyone else.
So how should you deal with rude customer? That’s simple; in a way that can build the relationship with both the disgruntled customer, as well as your other customers.
How To Deal With Rude Customers At Your Food Truck
- Stay calm, don’t overreact. The first thing to do when dealing with rude customers is to remain calm and not respond in kind. If you are faced with an unexpected verbal attack, a natural defense mechanism is to attack back. Something as simple as taking some deep breaths can give you a few seconds to gather your thoughts and avoid retaliating in a way that makes you looked at as the aggressor.
- Approach the situation tactfully and directly. It’s your food truck and you have the right to determine the atmosphere around it. Use tactful ways of getting to the point. Don’t be afraid to address your concerns directly, with a calm, diplomatic tone.
- Solve the problem, if you can. Sometimes a rude customer simply wants their way. Ask questions to get to the heart of the matter and do your best to get them what they need. Returning order could be as simple as a comped dish. Be willing to concede to keep the peace, and address their needs as long as they are within reason.
- Think about your other customers. At a certain point of disruption, it becomes important to consider the other customers in line above the rude customer. If customers are leaving your line, offer them a reason to return (a coupon, or gift card, etc…). If they are willing to stay through the situation, find a way to show your appreciation of their patience. This could be a free dessert or drink.
- Ask the disruptive customer to leave. Though rare, a problem could grow large enough that it needs to be removed. If you need to ask a guest to leave, do so as gracefully as possible. Comp the meal to avoid complication, and firmly ask the guest to leave. If the situation reaches this point, be sure to check on your other guests once the disgruntled diner has exited.
The Bottom Line
Rude customers differ from the merely unhappy in that they can’t control their anger. They are unreasonable, unfriendly, and prone to verbal abuse, offensive language and threatening behavior. The problem is, you’re in business to serve your customers, so it’s important to try to help them.
Although your service window staff are the ones most likely to encounter rude customers, everyone has customers. Anyone who walks up to your food truck who looks to you for a meal or some other output is a customer.
How you and your staff manage yourselves, calm the situation, and build bridges with rude customers, is important to your mobile food business. The key is using these tips to help recover from the experience and prevent these types of situations from happening again.