How to deal with abusive customers

How to deal with abusive customers

One of the toughest parts of working in the hospitality industry is dealing with rude or abusive customers.

However, few people encounter rudeness of the level experienced by staff at a McDonald's restaurant in Wigan earlier this month, who were pelted with rubbish by around 100 youths taunting them with obscenity filled songs. Videos of the scenes were filmed using a mobile phone and have since gone viral on YouTube, highlighting the challenges people working in the hospitality business can face.

McDonald's said: "We were appalled by the deplorable behaviour displayed in our Standishgate restaurant. The safety and security of our employees is of paramount importance, and it is completely unacceptable for them to be the targets of any level of intimidation or abuse."

While we hope that very few people working in restaurants, pubs and hotels encounter abuse like this, the chances are they will unfortunately encounter abuse of some form, even if it is just someone shouting at them for getting an order wrong or mixing up the change.

There are a number of steps business owners can take to ensure that staff are safe on the job and that they know how to deal with such situations.

Safety alarms

Having safety alarms which ring straight through to the police can be a great idea if a business is likely to encounter abusive customers and it was such alarms which deterred the youths who attacked the Wigan McDonald's this month.

Even just having one of the alarms can give staff member's peace of mind.

Put a protocol in place

Having a strict protocol on how to deal with tricky customers whom all members of staff know is essential. This can be as simple as going to get a member of the management team as soon as a complaint is lodged or having a set point where people are asked to leave.

Role playing

Role playing among the staff and acting out situations involving abusive customers can help give people the confidence to be assertive with rude customers and know when they need to ask for help when someone turns abusive.
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