For any restaurant owner, spectacular customer service is essential to the restaurant’s success. The question here is, how do you, as a restaurant owner, deliver excellent customer service at your restaurant? What is customer service? Customer service is the assistance and advice you provide to your restaurant.
Customer service works like a two – way street; it is between your employees and your customers. Appropriate communication and genuine attention are crucial aspects of customer service. When your employees greet guests coming to your restaurant, it is important to make your guests feel welcome. How will this pan out? By treating your guests with care, respecting and providing them a delicious meal, you’ll have them coming back over and over again, wanting more.
Satisfied customers are fundamental and constitutive to your business model. One study, conducted at the Harvard Business School, studied customer satisfaction at Starbucks. It was found that satisfied customers visit around 4.3 times per month, spend $4.06 and remain customers for 4.4 years. Furthermore, it was found that highly satisfied customers visit 7.2 times per month, spend $4.42 and are customers for 8.3 years. This proves that customer satisfaction has a tremendous impact on both revenue and customer retention.
Another important question is, what happens in the case where you have a dissatisfied customer? According to one study in a Customer Experience Report, the number one reason why customers abandon a brand is due to poor quality and rude or inappropriate customer service. These two aspects were mentioned and highlighted 18% more often than aspects such as slow or untimely service.
Both of these studies emphasize on the importance of having excellent customer service at your restaurant. Suggestions say that customer service can make or break your restaurant. Below, you can find a discussion on the five ways to deliver spectacular customer service at your restaurant.
- Do It Right From the Start
Besides the importance of food quality, the experience that customers have from the moment they walk through the door to the minute they leave is what counts. Your customer’s needs should always be at the forefront of every single dining experience. Here are some tips on how to accomplish and maintain that:
- Customers should be greeted the second they walk in the door.
- Use appropriate and respectful titles – such as sir, ma’am.
- Do not interrupt your customers.
- Be attentive to what they want and listen earnestly.
- Be very aware and knowledgeable of your menu. Ask sincere questions and repeat their orders to make sure that the order has been taken correctly.
It is true that etiquette usually depends on the restaurant type, however, proper etiquette can be maintained in, for example, pizza parlors as well as fine – dining restaurants.
- Who is to be served first? Depending on the setting, if there is a guest of honor, serve them first. If it is a normal dining setting, start with the women, then the men, and finish off with the children.
- When serving and clearing food, always make sure it is from the customer’s left side. In some instances, reaching in or interrupting is part of serving and clearing, just make sure to be polite about it.
- When serving, pouring and refilling drinks, make sure it is always from the right side.
- When serving food, follow a system to know which plates go to which customer. Avoid calling out entrees as much as possible.
- Do not ever make customers feel like you want them to leave. The customer’s comfort is of the utmost importance, even more important than the server’s tip.
- Do Not Make Them Wait
Time is of the essence! If your guests are waiting too long for the first round of drinks, appetizer or meal, you have instantly lost them. It won’t matter if your bartender serves the best martinis or your chef prepares the best steaks, your guests are already very irritated and hungry.
This can be a very crucial turning point, it can be very difficult to win back a disappointed customer. Do not disappoint your customers, no matter what. Having enough staff of hand ensures that your guests won’t have to wait too long. Make sure to inform a customer that a certain meal may take a bit longer to cook and prepare, always be forthcoming and informative.
Speed of service is vital to building a good dining experience, no matter the type of restaurant. Depending on what you are serving, your customers will have certain expectations on how long it would take to prepare and serve a certain appetizer, dish and so on. Make sure that you attempt to keep up with these expectations to a certain extent.
Your top priority and main goal is to continuously accommodate your customers the same exact way every day, and always offering the same quality of food and service every day at any time of day.
- Fix Problems Immediately
The ability to finesse at dealing with customer problems and complaints is vital to achieving excellent customer service. Even if you work to your best of abilities, there will always be something that goes wrong every once in a while. Your main goal is to always please your customer and defuse the situation immediately without escalation.
Immediate resolution of any problem is essential. Do not, at any cost, let the customer’s problem work its way up the management chain. Below are some tips for dealing with any potential altercations:
- Listen to your customer earnestly and do not interrupt at all.
- Acknowledge the mistake and agree with the customer that there is a problem. End it off with a sincere apology.
- Keep your cool and stay as calm as possible to avoid escalation, even if you do not agree with the customer.
- Negotiate your customer down to a reasonable and acceptable solution.
- Empathize with your customer, do not play the blame game.
- Offer another sincere apology!
- Defuse and solve the problem immediately and avoid drama.
- Use Customer Comment Cards
Always acknowledge your customer’s opinion and show them that you value their opinion. Good, bad or in – between, all opinions and suggestions should be very important to your restaurant.
By offering your customers the opportunity to comment or offer their opinion, you are reinforcing the fact that you care and are always looking for ways to improve your food and optimize your service. Surprisingly, you can learn a lot about different areas in your restaurant that require improvement. These comments also show you where your strengths are and which areas you excel in.
You will be able to learn what your customers approve of and disapprove of. This will allow you to fortify your customer relationships and enhance the operations at your restaurant as well.
- Incorporate Technology
Finally, incorporating technology can act as a new and innovative way to deliver your excellent customer service. Depending on the restaurant type, some form of technology can be implemented into many restaurant business models.
Providing your customers with a platform which allows them to instantly order from your online menu with ease could potentially improve your sales. Customers oftentimes tend to spend more money ordering online because of their temptations to try more. By using prominent and persuasive calls to action, you can encourage your customers to order more.
Customers who look for casual dining will find such an ordering system quick and easy. Any customer would highly appreciate such convenience and speed.
Offer Free Wi-Fi
According to a study conducted by Technomic Inc. in 2014, 65% of customers expected that restaurants in the quick-service segment offer access to free Wi-fi in their restaurants. Spend a few extra bucks to keep up with these expectations so that your customers are extra satisfied.
Games at the Table
After a long day at work, parents of young children are oftentimes very exhausted. Try giving these parents a break and some peace of mind by occupying their children. Whether it’s a handheld gaming device at the table, a TV/media room or playroom for kids, or the old school coloring books.
By Ahmad Hajaj