If you’re a restaurant owner or manager then you will know that delivering excellent customer service is absolutely essential for the success of your business. You probably even know the usual cliches that go along with it: ‘Service with a smile’, ‘The customer is always right’, etc. However, when it really comes down to it, what are the actionable steps you can take that will ensure your customers have an experience to remember?
Start how you mean to go on
When’s the most important time to wow your customers with fantastic customer service? After they’ve sat down? With the food you serve them? During the meal?
In fact it’s arguable that the most important part of a guest’s visit is the very first moment they step through the door. From here you can set the tone for what will hopefully be a fantastic dining experience.
Make sure you always have a member of staff (or more if necessary) ready to greet guests as they enter your restaurant, and train them to always display a positive and friendly demeanour. You may also want to ask your staff to use more formal titles, such as ‘sir’ and ‘madame’, though this will probably not be necessary if your restaurant is more informal.
Don’t make them wait. And if you have to, make it up to them
Nothing annoys restaurant guests quite as much as an extended wait.
Sure, we expect a bit of a delay at a popular establishment on a Saturday night, but it needs to be reasonable and, most importantly, we like to be pre-warned of a wait and receive an appropriate apology if we are left waiting.
After warning your guests and apologising for the wait, they might still be disgruntled, but you can always turn it around. Offer a free round of drinks or discount their food bill. You could even offer them a voucher for money off their bill the next time they come in.
You can even make sure that their waiting period is a positive experience. If you’ve hired an excellent bar staff team then you could prepare them some exciting cocktails/mocktails on the house, providing an entertaining spectacle.
Resolve issues quickly
Even at the very best restaurants things can still go wrong, but when they do it is essential that you resolve them quickly and to the satisfaction of the affected guests.
Something wrong with the guest’s meal? Apologise, take it away and make it an absolute priority to get the replacement ready ASAP and offer to take some money off of their bill or a provide a free round of drinks. Most people will be understand that sometimes things go wrong, but they still expect the restaurant to show a willingness to make it up to them..
Make use of technology
We’ve come a long way from the days of writing down orders and booking tables on paper. Nowadays there is a whole range of apps and tech available to you that can enhance the customer service experience with.
From table booking apps to arming your waiting staff with tablets that can send orders direct from the table to the kitchen, technology can streamline the whole dining experience.
People also want to be able to, and expect to be able to, access the internet while dining in your restaurant, so make sure you’re offering free WiFi. If you don’t, you’re almost certainly going to lose business from people who would’ve booked your restaurant for a business meeting, or single diners who want to do some work while they eat.
A sincere goodbye
People don’t stop being restaurant guests once they’ve paid the bill. You need to make sure that you deliver an exceptional customer service experience until they’ve left the premises.
With this in mind, don’t simply ignore them as they get up to leave. The staff responsible for meeting and greeting guests can be charged with this responsibility, offering a warm and sincere goodbye and thank you as they leave, but all members of the team should be prepared to do so if the meeters and greeters are busy.