Saying “I’m sorry” Too Many Times
To Improve Tips, it revolves around customer service. However workflow is not always in our control. Did you ever go to a restaurant that was either short staffed or super busy and as a customer you started to count the apologies? Sometimes if you reflect on your own experiences, you realize some attempts at customer service really don’t work.
One common mistake is the waiter/server saying “I’m Sorry” every time they come to the table. For example: True Scenario
- First Contact at the table – “I’m so sorry you had to wait so long to be seated. We are real busy today.”
- Second Contact – “I’m sorry it is taking me so long to take your order. I had a big table to take care of”
- Third Contact – ” I’m sorry it is taking so long for the food. I’ll check on it again.”
- Fourth Contact when bringing the food to the table –” I’m sorry the food took so long. The cook doesn’t feel good so he is slow tonight.”
- Fifth Contact – “I’m sorry I forgot your soup. I am just so busy tonight.”
- Sixth Contact – ” I’m sorry I didn’t know you were waiting for your bill. I’ve been running around like a chicken without a head (Lol)
- Seventh Contact -” I am so sorry you were not happy with your service tonight. I did the best I could.
- Wouldn’t you think that if the server checked on the customer 7 times that they would be delighted? Not in this case.
Hopefully as you reflect on this scenario, you will notice 2 things that were done incorrectly. I mentioned one in the title.
First error: Apologizing too many times.
An apology might be perfectly acceptable if there is an unusual problem with the restaurant flow. We all know that shift that nothing went right causing utter frustration. However, one apology is sufficient. When the apology is repeated over and over, it loses its sincerity and the customer starts counting how many times it occurs. And it becomes even more irritating by drawing even more attention to the delays.
So what to do:
- 1. Choose the first encounter when they are seated and apologize for the “wait” or if that is not the problem, choose the time that you notice the customer is getting aggravated.
- 2. Only apologize if it is an abnormal situation for the restaurant.
- 3. When taking the order, give them an idea of how long it will be before they get their food. Give it a longer time than it will be. That way you are successful. People can accept waiting if they know how long it will be.
- 4. Offer drinks and appetizers. Perhaps they will order appetizers or another drink. Don’t say, “Since you have to wait, do you want an appetizer?”
- 5. Take a deep breath and slow your heart rate down. Did you know that if you time yourself trying to rush around and then doing the same thing calmly that you don’t get anything more done except frustration? You save several seconds. It’s not worth it AND the customer feels the frustration.
What is the second error? Don’t tell the customer your work problems
When someone is upset it is human nature to respond by stating everything that is going wrong today. The thought is that the customer will be sympathetic towards us. We’ve all done it. That doesn’t work. It causes them more frustration. Telling your work problems is statements like
“I’m sorry, 2 waitresses called off.”
“I’m sorry, the cook called in and the manager has to cook.”
“I’m sorry, a table of 10 just arrived.”
” I’m sorry, I have too many tables today.”
“ I’m working as fast as I can.”
Those are work problems. Can you relate to any of these? The customer is paying for a meal and expects the business to solve those problems.
So What To Do:
- 1. Don’t repeat apology – Pick one good time for an apology.
- 2. Don’t state reasons for delays or your stress?
- 3. Tell them your name and that you are going to take good care of them
- (Letting them know your name is ABSOLUTELY a must. )
- 4. Respond to your customers with a smile and positives such as “Would you like refills on your drinks?” “Is there anything else I can get you?” “I’ll be checking on you.” (Notice I did not say “while you wait”) You are thinking that you are busy and don’t have time to keep checking on them. In the scenario above, which is a true story, she was at the table 7 times. Use the opportunities that you will be at the table anyway.
You already told them the amount of time for the food to be served so let them relax and enjoy their company and never forget A Smile Goes A Long Way!
I hope this information is helpful.
1. Don’t say I’m sorry too many times
2. Don’t tell your customers your work problems.
My name is Andrea and I have been in customer service my entire career as a business owner and business educator.
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