There’s nothing more frustrating than an angry guest, especially one that you’re unable to do anything about. You may fully sympathize with their circumstances and their complaints, but it’s difficult to work with it when there’s a customer yelling at you! If you’re struggling with an angry guest, there are five key steps you can take to set things right again and ensure that you’re providing the best possible customer service.
Step One: Remain Calm
It’s tough to remain calm when someone is yelling at you, but to give the best possible customer service even in a difficult situation, that’s exactly what you have to do. Try some of these tips to help you remain calm even in the face of the angriest customers:
- Don’t take it personally. Even if your guest is trying to make it personal, they aren’t really angry at you! Rather, they’re angry at the situation, and you happen to be a handy target.
- Breathe slowly and calmly. Don’t tense up. Controlling your physical reaction is one of the key steps to controlling your emotions even when you have an angry guest yelling about circumstances beyond your control.
- Look at angry customers as a puzzle or challenge. Keeping your cool will help you solve that challenge faster as you discover what it is that’s upset them and work through how to fix it.
- Reward yourself for handling angry guests calmly. Choose a reward system that’s motivating for you, then hold yourself to it. You’ll have something to look forward to when the ranting is done and the guest has gone back to their room, which will make it easier to keep your calm.
A calm demeanor can be the difference between a situation that’s handled well and one that leaves your guest more frustrated than before. It’s your job to de-escalate the situation. Remaining calm will allow you to do exactly that.
Step Two: Actively Sympathize
Whether they’re at your hotel for business or pleasure, your guests expect and even need a certain quality of experience. Chances are, they’re already out of their element and in a high-stress situation. You don’t know everyone’s story, but you can sympathize with the portion of it that they’re telling you. Whether the anger comes from the fact that they’ve mistakenly booked the wrong room, which can lead to uncomfortable sleeping arrangements for everyone involved, or other guests making too much noise, which can make it impossible to rest or get work done, take a step back and consider what it is about the situation that’s making them so frustrated. Chances are, you’ll be able to identify with the root cause of the anger: poor sleep, a struggle to get necessary tasks completed, or discomfort in a space that’s supposed to be relaxing. Actively sympathize with the guest. If possible, identify that root frustration aloud. Change your perspective so that you’re able to better understand what’s causing the problem. This simple step can drastically change the way you view the guest throughout your interaction, which will in turn lead to better customer service.
Step Three: Use Your Active Listening Skills
This isn’t the first guest that’s yelled at you tonight. It might not even be the third. Once you’ve heard one angry outburst, you’ve heard them all–but that doesn’t mean that you can zone out and let the customer rant without any input from you, either. Instead, practice active listening. Give the customer your attention and listen to what they’re actually trying to stay. Often, through active listening, you can identify the real cause of the complaint, then provide a solution that is geared toward genuinely helping the guest meet their needs. Active listening also removes the need for you to respond until the guest is finished ranting, which can prevent either of you from feeling as though someone is talking over the top of you while you try to express yourself.
Step Four: Offer Solutions Based on Customer Expectations
Since you’ve been practicing your active listening skills, chances are, you have a pretty good idea of what your guest wants from their interaction with you. Provide a solution that is tailored toward those needs. For example, you may need to move the customer to another room, provide a discount on the stay, or offer other incentives that will help make the customer happier in the wake of whatever they’ve experienced. Listen carefully! Often, the customer will tell you exactly what they want. In some cases, the rules at your hotel may make it impossible for you to offer them what they expect. In others, however, a simple shift in your thinking will make it easy to provide exactly what they want.
Step Five: Take a Time Out
After dealing with a difficult customer, you may find that you’re emotionally distraught and struggling to give future guests your best when they come up to the front desk. If you have someone else on hand to cover for you for a few minutes, take some time to collect yourself. Take a few deep breaths, slow your heart rate, and set the interaction with this customer aside so that you’ll be better prepared to deal with the next one. You may need to take a restroom break, drink some water, or take a walk around the hotel: whatever it takes to calm yourself down. Keep in mind that a short mental health break isn’t just a luxury. It’s an important activity that will allow you to better interact with future customers.
Angry guests are an ongoing part of working at a hotel’s front desk. Some of them are justified in their anger; others may seem completely unreasonable. By developing internal strategies for dealing with them, however, you’ll find that you’re better prepared to handle angry guests as they appear. Need to know how your front desk staff will handle angry guests? Contact us today to learn how we can evaluate your front desk staff without their foreknowledge, allowing you to develop a better picture of how they’ll handle potential problems on the job.