Irritating Customers? Here’s How To Handle Them

The Montreal Gazette has collected a list of annoyances waiters have had with customers. They may be universal, and they may not ever be intentionally annoying, but there’s no disagreement that customers can be your best friend or your most annoying enemy. Still, your staff needs to be able to shrug off or ignore many issues appropriately, keeping your business running and everyone happy.

We’ve gone down the list to see what you and your staff can do to take care of these issues.

1. Stop trying to make us laugh with old, clichéd jokes.
If you’ve heard the same jokes over and over, just shrug, smile, and chuckle. They’re trying to be friendly or funny; just let them have it.

2. Allergies and intolerances and gluten free, oh my!
Deal with these allergies, and have a list of items on hand that meat certain requirements. There’ll be new intolerances every once in a while; just keeping up with the changes and options will keep you in the good graces of those with intolerances… and those who think they have them.

3. Can we have a booth?
If you have one, just give it to them. It’s a small concession to keep them happy.

4. Don’t snap your fingers at your waiter. EVER.
Take a breath and deal with it. People will snap.

5. Pay attention to what you are ordering.
If a guess claims they ordered something else, just get them something else. Take the dish back and order a new one; there’s no success in arguing it with the customer.

6. Coming in to eat 10 minutes before closing.
Take the customer, but there are little things you can do to keep them on their toes. Lock the doors, clean up around them, and a simple “We’re closing soon.” can inform the late parties about their untimely nature.

7. Control your kids.
If kids are actually in physical harm or causing disturbances, bring it to the parent’s attention, but just try your best to tolerate and ignore them.

8. Don’t compliment the service and then tip below 15%.
Breathe and relax. There will be other customers with better tips and words to say.

9. No camping.
Follow the #6 response, and be subtle in whatever encouragement you make to prevent camping.

10. Can I get this to go?
Give it to them to go, or tell them you don’t have take-out containers. Of course, we’d say to just make sure you have take-out containers. Of course, we advise that you make a take-out container available.

11. There actually is such a thing as a stupid question.
Entertain the stupid question, and if it’s really bad, write it down to share with people. Stupid questions can be great entertainment for later.

12. Can you sing Happy Birthday?
You may not need to actually sing “Happy Birthday”, but having a plan for birthdays is always a good idea.

13. Don’t say that you’re ready to order when you’re not.
Give them time, and take care of other business if they need multiple attempts at ordering.

14. Don’t laugh when you order fries.
Deal with it? Apparently, people laugh when they order fries.

15. Vegans stay home.
“Vegans, come to our restaurant.” Have some plan for vegans and vegetarians; even if it’s a limited menu, it’s still a menu.

16. Don’t ask us which plate we like better.
Have some preferences on hand for ready-access.

17. “Please wait to be seated” means “Please wait to be seated.”
If someone ignores the sign, go ahead and serve them, or tell them that the section isn’t available at the moment and offer to sit them elsewhere.

18. No, I’m not a student, and, yes, this is my real job.
Tell them the truth or a standard cover story; you may or may not be a student, and you might actually take pride in your job.

19. No unnecessary trips.
Make sure to offer anything the customer would want in your mind before going for one thing; it’ll save yourself a trip when they invariably change their mind.

20. Please don’t be rude.
Smile, nod, and realize they’ll hopefully be out of your hair soon enough.