Customer service can make or break your restaurant. Here are five research backed ways to deliver excellent customer service at your eatery.
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Image Title: Customer Service
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Customer service has the potential to make or break your establishment, especially when you’re running a restaurant. A breath-taking view, Instagram worthy interior or the craving for a delicious meal may get your customers through the door. But if customer service is subpar, there's a high chance they won't return for another meal. Even worse, they may tell other people about their negative experience.
Stellar customer service starts and ends with your staff. Your people. Hire the right people, treat them with respect, and exemplary customer service will be an organic result. With appropriate processes and systems, customer service can be a tangible metric you can track, rather than leaving it to chance.
Not sure how that works?
We've got you covered.
Here are five ways you can deliver brilliant customer service at your restaurant.
- Know What You Sell
As a service provider, you're going to spend your whole day troubleshooting your customers’ problems. To do this efficiently, you'll have to be a product expert. Holistic knowledge of the products you sell is essential if you want to excel at customer service. Ideally, you need to believe in your product and be capable of discussing its intricacies insightfully.
Show your customers how different items on the menu can benefit them, where the ingredients come from, the effort your staff puts in behind kitchen doors, and help them get the most out of their experience. When the customer gets ready to pay the bill, they need to feel they've received the true value for their money. Make it a goal to learn everything you can about every item on the menu. This will enable you to make timely recommendations to people who visit your restaurant.
- Fix the Customer's Problems Immediately
66% of customers believe that respecting their time is essential for customer experience. Resolving complaints as soon as they arise is a cornerstone of excellent customer service. Speed should be a priority, especially when dealing with smaller issues (getting a customer a napkin or refilling drink orders) that don't take much time to solve.
It's also about being tactful when you're dealing with complaints. No matter how hard you try, something can and will go wrong in a given instance. Whatever the problem may be, your job is to ensure the customer stays happy. Don't let the customer's dissatisfaction linger; listen attentively without interrupting, and then acknowledge your mistake and work towards solving the problem. Be apologetic while staying calm, even when you don't agree with the customer.
Maintaining eye contact and watching your body language is important, too. Try to come up with a solution that is beneficial for both of you.
- Provide Excellent Training
Investing in your staff takes more than just telling them how to use the cash register or carry multiple plates. It's another way of instilling your restaurant's values and culture into its most valuable asset: your people. Stellar staff training equips them with the tools they need to provide excellent service daily. If something goes wrong, they need the right protocol rather than simply "winging it."
When your waiters, hosts, and restaurant manager know what you expect and when communication is clear and consistent, it makes your restaurant a happier place to eat in and work. More importantly, when you train your staff appropriately, they respond well since they understand that their needs as an employee are being met.
- Ask Your Customers for Feedback
Collecting customer feedback is more than simply focusing on your restaurant's online presence. You can also work on making positive changes to your restaurant's day-to-day operations. Prompt feedback can tell you which item you should keep on your menu and the ones you should remove. Perhaps the music was too loud for having a conversation? The seat near the window could have been too cold, or the window must have been hard to open.
You can only know these minor inconveniences your customers face if you ask for their feedback right after their meal. Otherwise, their urge to leave a comment will fade with their memory of the experience. Try using a QR code to do this. This way, you'll have your customer's feedback before posting it on Google.
Print a QR code survey on your restaurant's receipt. The customer will scan the code with their phone, and a survey will pop up. You can even leave QR codes on their tables, which will allow feedback while having the food. Over time, as you start to collect feedback, you can know where you sit amongst the competitors in your industry.
- Honour Regular Customers With a Loyalty System
A restaurant's loyalty program focuses on repeat business. However, it can also be used to understand customers who visit you regularly. What do they like? What have they requested for regularly? Are there any other potential revenue opportunities?
A recent study by Oracle showed that 62% of all consumers could be persuaded to switch a brand simply because of a loyalty program. Several cafes and restaurants still rely on the hole punch card method, which rewards customers with a free offering on their tenth visit.
The flaw with this method?
You're repetitively catering to the same customer. Try to craft a loyalty program that rewards your customers for bringing in new business. For instance, give them a two for one deal to bring their friends or family to your restaurant. We all love freebies, don't we? You can also surprise them on their birthday and invite them along with their friends.
Consider setting up a system that rewards your most loyal customer. Give them points for every visit, which will let the most frequent customers earn the most points.
A happy customer is the fulcrum of any eatery's success. Your décor, the food or affordability won't matter if the service doesn't meet or exceed your customer's standards. All of the elements we've mentioned above combine to form a brilliant customer service strategy for your restaurant. It establishes a reputation of you being helpful and makes your restaurant a great place to eat at regularly.
Remember, your customers want to be treated like humans, not their table number. Humanize your service, and then humanize them; everything else will fall into place on its own.