Improving Restaurant Customer Experiences

Uncategorized - May 7, 2018

 

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Whether you own or manage a quick service restaurant or a fine dining establishment, ramping up the level of restaurant customer service will keep people coming back. Diners are looking for a great experience as much as an enjoyable meal, and service can make the difference in meeting versus exceeding sales goals, because satisfied customers are loyal customers.

A Harvard Business School case study on Starbucks found that satisfied customers returned 4.2 times per month, while highly satisfied patrons came back 7.2 times. That’s nearly twice the number of visits (and dollars spent).

Now that fall is here and the holiday rush is just around the corner, it’s a good time to evaluate your operations and make sure your restaurant customer service is ready to impress.

  • Value Customers’ Time. Customers don’t like to wait, especially when they are hungry, tired, or in a rush. Identify the busiest shifts and schedule adequate staff to cover each dining section, bar, and kitchen so tables turn quickly and wait times are tolerable.
  • Details Matter. Some fine dining establishments will use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track customers’ preferences and number of visits, so loyal patrons can be greeted by the chef or offered a menu selection gratis. Rewarding repeat visits with personalized service will ensure these valued customers keep coming back.
  • Communicate Appropriately. It doesn’t matter if your eatery is a quick service establishment or has a Michelin star, rude or disinterested restaurant employees are a turnoff. Encourage your staff to smile and be pleasant at all times. It’s important to keep interruptions to a minimum and inform patrons if the wait for food or drinks will be longer than usual.
  • Get It Right the First Time. A common pet peeve among diners is food that comes out at the wrong times. If the table orders an appetizer and it comes out at the same time as the entrée, diners will be annoyed. Likewise, if half of the diners at a table receive their meals and the other half is left waiting, your customers will be displeased. Don’t only concentrate on getting orders right, but also on timing them right as well.
  • Check, Please. One of the trickiest aspects of restaurant customer service is the check. You don’t want the table to feel like they were forgotten about, but you also don’t want them to feel as though they are being pushed out the door. In addition to timing, it’s also important to make sure the check is correct. Point of Sale (POS) systems should be intuitive and easy for your staff to use. The more clicks that are required mean there are more chances to make mistakes.
  • Empower and Reward. Set clear goals and expectations for restaurant customer service and reward your staff for meeting these goals. Give them the tools, the technology and the guidelines they need to succeed and your operation will thrive.
  • Encourage Feedback. If a diner had a great experience, encourage them to tell other people about it! Ask patrons to rate your restaurant on Yelp, Trip Advisor or on your social media sites if they’ve had good service. Restaurants also run their own evaluations by asking customers to complete an online or telephone survey about their visit. This information can help identify areas that need improvement.

Improving restaurant customer service is one of the easiest ways to increase sales, encourage repeat business, and boost morale. Restaurant owners should communicate clear expectations and goals, while giving their staff the tools they need, such as CRM or a new POS system, to exceed these expectations.