As a restaurateur, what is the one thing (apart from food) which gets you the maximum bouquets and also the most brickbats? Your Restaurant Customer Service!
No longer does the concept “all you need to make a customer happy is good food” stands true. Customers of today are looking for a wholesome dining experience filled with delicious food, good ambience, entertainment and excellent restaurant customer service.
What is Restaurant Customer Service?
In order to understand how to provide great service, it is first necessary to understand what exactly is covered under the term “restaurant customer service”. Customer service is a vital part of running a restaurant and is as important as the taste of your best-selling item.
It begins right from the time a customer reserves a table or (if you don’t take reservations) walks into a restaurant. Among other things, it includes:
- Etiquette of the staff
- Speed of service
- How attentive you are toward your customers
- Quickly addressing complaints and problem-solving
For a restaurateur, customer experience should be the focus while planning the kind of outlet you want to set up and while deciding the general theme of the restaurant. Moreover, customer service is not limited to just dine-in restaurants. You have to ensure that you provide the best restaurant customer service irrespective of whether you are a QSR or a cloud kitchen or a cafe.
7 Tips On How To Make Your Restaurant Customer Service Remarkable:
Great customer service starts with well-trained staff members. It is essential that your front-of-the-house staff knows what they need to do & have all the needed training. This part of your restaurant staff are customer facing & hence, how they perform & cater to the guests would highly decide your restaurant’s customer service.
1. A Smile and A Polite Greeting Is The Right Way To Start
A polite greeting with a smile is the key to making your customers feel welcome in your restaurant. A customer’s first interaction at your doorstep will help you set the mood for the meal.
For this, you should ensure your staff undergoes proper etiquette training and is uniformly and neatly dressed and well mannered. No one likes to deal with arrogant and rude staff during their time out!
Oftentimes this also bodes well for the restaurant staff since happy customers tend to tip the captain/server they feel helped in creating a pleasant customer experience.
2. Think About What The Customer Wants
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. As someone who eats, you would also be visiting other restaurants as a customer and if nothing else, then to check out the competition.
It is then when you might come to realise what a customer wants and needs to enhance their experience. While visiting the competition, also keep an eye on what they are missing in their customer service. Observe how customers are reacting and responding to their services and use that to improve or implement your own services.
It also helps if you’re flexible to the needs of the customers. Small customisations to accommodate their comforts and needs go a long way!
A few things in which you can make changes according to the customers’ wants are:
- Splitting the bill to accommodate multiple payers on the same table
- Making changes to the item ordered according to the customer’s taste
- Temperature control – reducing or increasing the air conditioner
3. Pay Attention To Staff Training
It is important to have an all-rounded understanding of the restaurant. Not just the menu, but also things related to the restaurant. If the restaurant has a background story, ensure your staff knows that. If your restaurant has interesting architecture & artefacts, ensure your staff is well-versed with the story and facts.
Your servers as well as captains should be completely aware of what is being served to the customers. Many times, customers have allergies and hence inquire if certain ingredients are present in that particular item or not. It does not leave a good impression if the server has to consult his colleagues repeatedly. If a server is not aware, teach them to politely excuse themselves from the table and send someone with the knowledge in their place.
This is very important especially when you are a fine dining restaurant or a bar-cum-diner and serve alcohol. A lot of diners like to try out new drinks and love to hear recommendations from the bartender or the servers. A knowledge of this would help them score a lot of brownie points and earn a few extra bucks in the form of big tips! Good restaurant customer service in this form also would result in a high conversion rate of customers becoming regulars.
4. Be Attentive & Prompt but Don’t Hover
One of the most disliked aspects of dining in a restaurant is when a customer has to struggle to grab the attention of the servers, especially in fine dining restaurants. Nobody wants to shout/call out to a waiter or wave their hands repeatedly to get a server to notice them.
This problem can be solved in the following ways:
- If affordable, employ more servers
- Train the servers to be mindful of what course is the customer on and if they would require assistance during that course
- Fulfil an order perfectly without leaving any need for a customer to approach the server
- Install a waiter calling device in your restaurant
However, it is also important that servers don’t hover over tables. Usually, customers love to take their time to enjoy their food and the company in complete privacy.
Constant hanging around the table or over the heads of the dines will cause unpleasant interruptions and disruption of their privacy.
Hence, be mindful, do not levitate!
5. Personalise Customers’ Experiences
Who doesn’t love to feel special? Customers especially do!
If you ever ask a customer to recount an exceptional experience at a restaurant, they will most likely pick the one where a restaurant personalised their experience. This is a good way to ensure that customers will return to your house again and is also a great way of free advertising. How you ask? Happy diners will surely recommend their friends and family to visit your restaurant, thus resulting in a word of mouth marketing.
A few ways to do this are:
- Provide Food Vouchers
- Offer Discount Codes
- Send Over Free Food To Their Table
- Complimentary Drinks
- Customised Celebratory Decor
6. Use Advance Technology For Faster Service
One way of augmenting your restaurant customer service is to take technology in your stride and use it to provide quick and better experiences to your customers. It is recommended that you invest in a good POS to assist customers as well as you with the restaurant experience.
Some of the areas where technology can be useful are:
- Online Table Reservations
- Booking Orders For Delivery and Takeaway
- Online Payment Through Card/Netbanking/UPI
- Tablet Ordering System
- Waiter Calling Device
- Customer Data Collection
- Scanning QR Codes For Menus
- Customer Relationship Management
- Customer Feedback Management
7. Listen To Your Customers & Take Feedback
A good way to regulate your customer service is by taking feedback from customers regarding your service. Customers are usually willing to write feedback in exchange for a small incentive or sometimes for free too! Pay attention to their suggestions and comments.
For positive reviews, continue doing what you are already doing coz it means you’re doing it well.
Any criticism or negative reviews that you receive, accept them and learn to deal with them. The first plan of action should be to address the question “what can I do to make this better?”. The next step will be to thoroughly take steps in improving the areas where you lack and take care that the same mistakes are not repeated.
For customers who have had a bad experience, try to better the situation by offering them compensation or discounts. This will help in establishing a chance that the customer might visit again and that is when you can show that you have rectified your error and are working towards enhancing your customers’ experience and the restaurant’s customer service.
You might think that good food and a good ambience are more than enough to attract and retain customers but that is not true anymore.
You may have noticed that when a happy customer reviews a restaurant, the highlight of the review more often than not is the service provided by the restaurant. This is the secret to the success and longevity of a restaurant. With this blog, now you know it too!
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