How To Deal With Rude Restaurant Customers: Tips and Methods

Dealing with rude customers can be a real challenge for any business. It is important to know how to handle these difficult situations in order to get the best results possible. This blog post will provide you with some strategies and tips that you can use when dealing with rudeness from customers.

When dealing with rude customers, you should always remain calm. You need to really listen to the customer and show them sincere understanding and effort for making it all right. In most cases, a solution or reconciling is needed but you should know the limits when the customer is just rude for the sake of it.

Easier said and done am I right… Luckily I have gotten my fair share of rudeness with a valid point but unfortunately also some without any reason behind it what so ever, therefore if you stay with me a little while I think I can give you quite good methods of how to get through it! Let’s get to it!

Don’t get defensive, just breathe

So the first thing to do when a customer starts being rude for whatever reason, that doesn’t matter at this point. The first step you should take is to take a deep breath and understand that the customer has some kind of a problem and the only way to make him/her calm down is to stay calm and open-minded. Remember, 9 out of 10 times it isn’t personal.

Listen to what the customer is saying

Now that you have calmed yourself and prepared for listening, you should really listen because the customer can tell if you are faking it and not giving a damn, or if you actually care.

The best way to do this is to look them in the eyes, nodding a little, and by staying relaxed with your body language. Don’t cross your hands or let your eyes wander. In many cases, only this will calm the customer down a bit!

Repeat the customer’s problem

One of the best ways to make a customer feel heard is by repeating back what they said. Hearing their problem in your voice will show them that you understand and are taking it seriously enough not to interrupt or start talking over them, which can escalate an encounter in seconds when done incorrectly.

You don’t need to repeat everything but the key points of the problem are enough and the best part of repeating the problem back is that you will get more time to process the situation and come up with an answer. This is good because all of this is usually going through very quickly and the last thing you want is to just stand there with a blank mind.

Understand how you should behave

Before trying to explain the situation to the customer and even apologizing, it’s good to recap how you should present yourself and get the behavioral aspect in order.

The first thing that will aid you in this matter greatly is to use the customer’s name if you know it. Various behavioral studies have shown that when the person is called by their name, it will personalize the situation and the customer are more likely to reduce the anger.

Second, you should use a lower tone of voice yourself which may further calm the customer.

Sincerely sympathize and apologize

After you have heard the problem and repeated it back to the customer while staying calm, it’s time to calm them down for good. Sympathizing sincerely and apologizing are the final steps in order to get the rudeness to stop. However, the customer can instantly see if you are sincere or not which needs to be in order because sincerely is the most important aspect of getting the customer to calm down.

On the other hand, there is a big difference between sympathy and over empathetic so you should try to keep it at a real level. It can be quite hard to spot the difference but simply be understanding, calm, and aware of the customer’s issues.

Most workers that are getting yelled at, aren’t thrilled to apologize for something that isn’t usually their fault but you are a representative of the restaurants’ brand when working. Therefore you need to suck it up and apologize anyways, I know it isn’t pleasant.

Offer them a solution

If the customer doesn’t calm down by apologizing and sympathizing, it’s time to offer a solution! Presenting a solution to the customer will make them feel special and cared for, therefore in nearly every case, the customer will calm down at least when a solution is offered. I have listed some great ones below which you can try!

  • Gift card
  • Free product
  • Replacement product
  • Large discount for the next time

Some kind of a solution needs to be presented, especially in the modern-day that we live in today. When the customer is satisfied with the solution, they are more likely to visit again and the restaurant’s brand is safe. On the other hand, if there isn’t any solution and even worse if the customer handled the situation poorly, it can be catastrophic because there are social media, TripAdvisor, and other platforms where thousands of people can see reviews and opinions of the establishment.

If the solution doesn’t work then it’s time to get your manager and see what you can do about it. Without a doubt, there are some customers that aren’t willing to compromise and they can be quite upsetting. If the customer is yelling and getting out of hand then it’s better to politely ask them to leave. You can always calm security if the customer just simply doesn’t calm down.

Follow up

When the situation is diffused, don’t forget to follow up with the customer by asking them is everything to their satisfaction and do they need anything else. This will show them that even when they were rude, you are a professional and the restaurant’s standards are higher than the customer’s rude behavior.

What you shouldn’t do

There are various things that you simply shouldn’t do during or after the incident. First of all, you should never sink into the rude customers level and yell them back because it will only escalate everything and it can get to a huge spectacle if both the customer and employee just doesn’t have limits.

This will be worse to the employee even if the customer started it and even were the more horrific part of the dispute. Your boss will get angry, you can lose your job if it went too far, you could end up as a meme on social media, and it will be a bad reputation for the entire restaurant and the brand it carries.

Don’t let it get under your skin

If someone is yelling at you, calling names, and even getting threatening at you, it is really hard not to take it personally and as discouraging as this may sound is that some people just are rude for the sake of it. However, in most cases, the customer is just having a bad day or the hopes they had wasn’t just as expected and the nearest worker there to yell at were you.

Comfort yourself with the fact that when the incident is happening, many other people will see it as well. As a result in most cases, the other customers in the restaurant, your co-workers, boss, end everyone who saw it will treat you nicer and usually even tip more!

Right to refuse service

Always remember that when the customer has crossed a line and you feel discomfort and even threatened, you have every right not to serve and you should always look out for yourself. If the customer shows some of the following signs then you have the right to refuse to serve. These signs are:

  • When the customer starts acting violently
  • When the customer comes in after closing time
  • When the customer comes in when the establishment is full
  • When the customer causes other kinds of trouble that isn’t allowed

When you can’t refuse to serve

There are also many reasons when you can’t refuse service that is stated in the law as well. These reasons are:

  • Religion
  • Color
  • Race
  • Gender

Understand the takeaway

When the customer isn’t satisfied for whatever reason and even if it seems unreasonable to you, there is always a reason. As Bill Gates said: ”Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” and that is true! Really think about it and think about what could have done otherwise and what you can do so anything similar won’t happen again.


Dealing with rude customers isn’t easy but if you are prepared with the steps above and a solution in your back pocket, you will be fine! Dealing with rudeness will get easier in time if you find that couraging because I myself do not… However, that’s just the way it is.

Revisit these steps after you encounter a rude customer and see if it really made a difference because when I have used these step in my own work life, I have seen a tremendous change in the customer’s behavior when compared to the earlier times when I was just sitting ducks to the yelling customer.

Anyway, keep your head cool and have a positive attitude. That’s all you really need!

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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