Restaurants who offer great customer service generally have more success than those who don’t. Food is not the only metric to measure a restaurant’s success, restaurant customer service plays an important role too.
According to Benbria, 7 out of 10 customers say they’re inclined to spend more money in a business that delivers great customer service. On the other hand, a business that handed out a negative experience will lose that customer forever 51% of the time.
To start things off, let us define what customer service is. It is the act of taking care of a customer’s needs by providing professional, helpful, and quality service. Restaurant customer service should be enacted before, during, and after the customers’ needs are met.
To sum it up, customer service should involve the customer’s perception of the value expected from you against the value you actually delivered. Restaurants should always aim to reach a customer’s restaurant service standards, no matter how high.
P’s in Customer Service
There are multiple factors that affect restaurant customer service. We’ve broken down each one of them so you can use them in your restaurant.
This represents the core offering given to the customer. It is the first thing that a customer will judge your restaurant for and a crucial factor that your restaurant’s customer satisfaction will depend on.
The staff of your restaurant must be trained well to know everything about your menu items. Important details include: how it’s made, a general description, portion size, ingredients used, and what it’s best paired with.
The restaurant needs to enact guidelines that will help ensure customer satisfaction. Some common policies that your restaurant can adopt are:
- No cellphone policy during the shift.
- Uniform dress code including safety hazard protection like hairnets and aprons for cooks.
- Washing of hands every 30 minutes to ensure cleanliness in food handling and dispatching.
The employees are the enablers of how your restaurant perceives customer service and satisfaction. It is important that your employees reflect the restaurant brand in their day to day interactions.
As a restaurant owner, take your time in training your staff with proper customer service as they will be the ones manning the front of house on a daily basis. Subsequently, a poorly trained staff can lead to several customer complaints that will lead to loss of customers.
Being proactive means you are able to think ahead and envision what the customer needs are. Good customer service is taking steps in making sure that the customer does not need to remind the restaurant of anything. For example, being proactive in cleaning a dirty table or giving out condiments without the customer asking.
6 Ways To Deliver Great Restaurant Customer Service
Customers go to your restaurant to try the food. However, customers also want to be treated like royalty when they visit restaurants. Here are some tips that you can use to offer outstanding customer service to your visitors.
1. Lend a Helping Hand
Restaurant staff must be trained to assist the customer at all times. As soon as customers enter the restaurant, your staff must be pleasant and give them a warm welcome. Some questions that they might ask the customers are: “Do you have a reservation?”, “Would you like to dine-in at the smoking or non-smoking zone?”, “A seat for how many?”. Always remember to start your sentences with “Ma’am” or “Sir”.
In the same vein as one of our P’s discussed above, your staff must be proactive when it comes to customer service. Always be aware of the situation and see if there’s anything you can do. For example, if you see that it’s 30 degrees celsius outside, make sure to prepare a cold glass of water for your customers once they get seated.
Another situation could be that you see an elderly customer getting out of their vehicles. Make sure that you ask right away if you could lend a helping hand to them. Small acts like these are the reasons customers come back to your restaurant.
2. Have Enough Manpower
A restaurant must always have enough manpower for both the front of house and the back of house. There must be enough waiters to assist customers to be seated at their tables and take their orders. An absolute disaster for restaurants is to leave a customer standing at the waiting area unattended for a long time.
In addition, there must also be enough cooks in the kitchen to serve guests in a timely manner. A general rule of thumb is that a customer should not be kept waiting for more than 20 minutes before the food comes out. If and when you feel like this will happen, make sure to approach the customer and explain the situation to them.
3. Feel What Your Customers are Feeling
An effective way to train your staff is to tell them to have the ability to know how the customer feels. Pretend that you’re the customer, how would you want to feel when visiting a restaurant? How would you want a problem solved if you’re the one complaining?
For example, a customer complained that the food served wasn’t what he or she ordered. This is common in the restaurant industry and how you approach the customer will determine whether they’ll come back or not.
First, you have to apologize to the customer. Second, tell them immediately that you will replace the food with their original order. Lastly, make sure to either compensate the customer for the inconvenience caused. Their order can be billed on the house or give them a coupon with a discount when they go back to the restaurant.
4. Acknowledge and Accept Responsibility for Errors
There’s nothing that irks a customer more than a service staff pointing fingers for a mistake. Train your employees to acknowledge mistakes no matter what happened. Start off by telling the customer, “We apologize for the inconvenience this incident might have caused you.”
After acknowledging and accepting responsibility, do your best to resolve the problem. Ask the customer if they can come back so you can make it up to them. Keep the tone of your voice as sincere as possible and thank them for giving you the opportunity to resolve the problem.
It is important that your staff learns from their mistakes. Experience is the best teacher and it will definitely help them in serving customers better in the future.
5. Integrate Guest Survey Forms to Increase Customer Satisfaction
There are times when you’ve simply ran out of ideas to further enhance your customer service. When this happens, it’s now time to plan out your customer survey forms. The survey forms are a great way to see things that you might have potentially missed. Sometimes, the greatest insights on what to do with the restaurant comes from people who’re not directly involved with it.
For example, a restaurant owner believes that the restaurant has enough parking space. However, most of the replies on the guest surveys say that there should be more. This should tell you there’s something wrong with the projections on parking slots. As a result, customers might be lost due to lack of parking spaces.
A good strategy for restaurants to get immediate restaurant reviews is to make waiters hand out printed comment cards to guests after dining. See an example below.
6. Make It Convenient for the Customers in Any Way Possible
A unique strategy in offering customer satisfaction is to use technological advancements to your advantage. Here are some ideas on what you can give your customers to make life easier for them.
Easy for Customers with Special Needs
There are times when the customers who visit are those who need help with something. For example, customers with disabilities need a ramp or a cane to help them get to their seats easier. Another example is parents who brought their kids to dine-in with them. Restaurants must plan these things ahead of time and have chairs that’s kid-friendly and baby-friendly.
Some restaurants believe that this is a bad idea because customers will stay without ordering. However, unless you’re a coffee shop, we believe this is a step that customers will appreciate. In this world where people cannot live without connectivity, offering WiFi is one of the best things a restaurant can do for its customers.
QR Coded Menus
Ever since the inception of the coronavirus, restaurants are looking for ways to minimize human contact. Instead of handing out physical menus, restaurants can offer menus on a QR code for customers to see on their devices. Doing this shows that you care about your customer’s wellbeing.
Online Ordering and Delivery
Even if customers don’t visit your location, you can still offer great customer service with your online ordering platform. Having a user-friendly website to make the order process easier should be a priority for a better digital customer experience.
Is the customer always right? No. However, can we make them always feel right? Yes! Customers sometimes have the tendency to overbearing to restaurants but that does not mean we have the right to disrespect them.
It is the goal of a restaurant to treat every customer with respect and courtesy. Exceptional restaurant customer service will give your customers more reasons to come back.
EagleOwl is a back of the office solution that’s meant to increase a restaurant’s profitability. With our software many restaurants are able to increase their profitability by up to 25%.