The angriest customer ever
Framing: A customer angry at life is appeased (True story)
Here is a little true story that shows the importance of listening, while at the same time not letting the customers rattle you (some will do it for sport or natural inclination), and framing the interaction in a positive way.
About 12 years ago, a gentleman came to the restaurant where I worked for brunch. He was probably in his mid-forties but looked much older. He had the demeanor and the kind of face that has seen many screaming matches and tough times.
As soon as I approached, this is what he said:
“So you think I’m a wanker?” [Very tense and angry, ready to snap body language.]
Me: (Thinking: WTF?) “Good morning sir, would you like some coffee?” (Smile, reframe, Neo’s ‘Matrix bullet avoidance’ deployed).
Him: “Yeah, you think I am a puffer eh? what’s your problem? you are a wanker!”
Me: (Okay, It’s gonna be one of those days…) “I’ll bring you a coffee. Cream or milk?” (Reframing, agree and amplify, charisma).
Him: “Ah…ok… But you are a wanker!”
(Me: (Okay… Someone is cranky, smile) “cream or milk?” (Defusing by refusing to engage, charisma).
Him: “Mmmmf…. cream please.”
Me: (Internally patting myself on the back) “sure thing sir. I’ll be right back.” (RUN to get his coffee).
The rest of the interaction was a fine balance between him trying to get angry and me just being the convivial and jolly type that couldn’t be phased.
At the end of the meal he said, “You know, you are alright. You have great attitude for service.”
Me: (Okay dude, now you are weirding me out, but thanks. I’ll take the compliment)
“thank you sir. Can I quote you on that? My boss would love to hear it, ha haha,” (we both had a chuckle).
His companion was a little horrified and she explained that he was a chef in London.
His name? Gordon Ramsay.
He walked out of the restaurant smiling. Good vibes.
The lesson here: Don’t let customers bring your good energy and positive vibes down. Give ’em more love. Can’t make your day any worse, and with a little luck and good attitude you can make their day better.
I still think that he was pretty hungover that day, lol.