Alexander Kjerulf, self defined as "Chief Happiness Officer", writes in his blog about cases where customers are more trouble than benefit for the businesses. He focuses his examples on the airlines industry, where thousands of people fly every day and have a few customers that are more trouble than benefit.
Mr. Kjerulf gives his top five reasons why business shouldn't follow the strategy: "The customer is always right". I will add my take on this, applying his reasonings to the Restaurant industry.1: It makes employees unhappy
Mr. Kjerulf says that business owners should always be on the employee's side since they want to keep their employees loyal.
Of course, things are a little different in the restaurant business. Disgruntled customers mean no tips for waiters and really bad publicity (via online forums, etc.) for the restaurant.
Although I agree that you need to be loyal to your employees, and that if a customer is not reasonable and threatens any of your employees - you should always take the side of your employee, I sincerely think that your employees could/would put up with any difficult customer if their demands are not unreasonable.
Happy customers are good for everybody (more tips and more referrals) and not all your clients will be pleasant and having nice personalities.2: It gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage
The reasoning here is that abusive people get away with anything and get better treatment than nice people.
Again, I disagree here. Abusive people perhaps can bully their way once or twice; but your employees will always treat nice clientsbetter by giving extra attention to them, engaging in personal conversation, etc., versus serving the minimum needs of nasty customers so that they don't complain.3: Some customers are bad for business
He has a point here. Some customers are impossible to please. Perhaps they have some mental disorders (how many people walk the streets with mental problems? Many for sure) or are just grumpy or unhappy with their lives and they share their unhappiness with everybody around them, or more specific with your staff since they probably feel superior and want to let them know who's in control.
What can you do with these difficult customers? Well, I would suggest you to try to please them, within a reason.
However, if you see that they become aggressive or disruptive, invite them to leave your premises and tell them that you will call the police if they don't comply.
The limit of tolerance is the point where they start bothering other clients. This is never acceptable. You can't afford to have a few out-of-control customers spoiling everybody else's dining experience.4: It results in worse customer service
Mr. Kjerulf's point here is that happier employees make happier customers. I don't doubt this. I just think that disruptive customers are a minority and your employees should be trained to deal with them. Of course, you need to care about your employees and side with them when they are right, but you also need to care about your clients.
At the end of the day, your clients are the ones who give you the money so you need to keep a balance.5: Some customers are just plain wrong
The example that Mr. Kjerulf gives here is about a passenger that behaves like a jerk. Again this kind of behavior fits into the disruptive category that we mentioned before. This passenger, with his behavior, wasn't only rude to the flight assistants, he was rude to the rest of the passengers and therefore this can't be tolerated.
To conclude, your customers have the right to ask for a great dining experience in your place and should ask you to make right something that it's wrong. However, they don't have the right to be rude to your staff or disruptive to the rest of your clientele. This is the point where you should intervene and ask them to leave your premises, even at the expense of not charging them for the food. It is better to lose a few dollars that to start a confrontation that makes the situation very uncomfortable for you, your employees and the rest of your clients.
Any Comments? Please let me know what you think. Jose L Riesco
You can participate in the forums in my web site at Restaurant Marketing Strategies or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org www.myrestaurantmarketing.com