4 Keys to Outstanding Customer Service at Your Restaurant
High-quality customer service is important in any service industry field. If you’re running a restaurant business, both the product and the service must live up to the customer’s expectation. Review page like Yelp or TripAdvisor makes it transparent for customers to have certain perceptions before they even set foot to your restaurant.
Here are some tips on improving customer service in your restaurant:
1. Set the expectations on the brand level
A customer at a fast-casual dining chain clearly has a different expectation than at a Michelin star restaurant. No matter where your restaurant falls in the concept spectrum, you need to set the baseline of the basic service expectations for your restaurant. Whether the customers have looked you up online or have driven by your location, they have formed some expectation on what kind of experience they will receive in your restaurant.
Do you offer an intimate, relaxed atmosphere with outdoor seating? Are you a fast-casual chain with open kitchens where customers can see how their food is prepared? Or are you a fine dining restaurant with white tablecloths and waiters in tux? You need to ensure to leave no room for disappointment here. Your staff’s gestures and manners need to communicate your brand value.
2. Consider the context
A customer who goes on a date in a fancy restaurant, or a holiday celebration, or rushes through a business trip all requires different interactions from the frontline staff. Careful attention to details (about a customer’s allergy, diet, nutrition constraints, etc) and the deliberate ability to explain the restaurant’s current offerings are fundamental in the restaurant business and customer service. The genuinity of staff to help a family calm down their crying children after a long holiday trip in a restaurant will go a long way in building long-lasting relationship with the customers. Starbucks will remake your coffee if it was incorrectly made because the Customer Lifetime Value of a Starbucks customer is $14,000 over 20 years. Aim for repetitive business means takes note of the context that your customers disclose or show when they visit your restaurant.
3. Hire the right people for the right job
Customer service jobs are demanding: long hours standing on the feet, running around, smiling, talking and serving. Look to find people who naturally enjoy being a good host, people who throw great dinner parties because they love the dynamics. Empathy, warmth, thoughtfulness are all critical traits. While technical skills can be a trait, personality is inherent. At peak customer service hours, such suitable employee will be able to handle the stress better.
4. Foster the feedback culture
Food service is an engaging business, where one customer interaction at one point can direct the customer’s mood for the whole service time. Getting real-time customer feedback is essential. Casual chat, comment card, social media or email survey forms are all applicable, however, the earlier and more time you solicit for feedback, the easier it is to improve your service immediately.
On the other side, the best ideas don’t come from the boardroom. It comes from people in the field – the frontline employees who are in contact with customers every day, who are manifesting your intangible value proposition as a restaurant. Acknowledge, recognize, and implement employee suggestions send a strong signal to the whole organization that you value their work and their input. A well-treated employee transfers the good vibe to his work and passes it on to your customers.
At Sparkwork, we sit down with restaurant owners/operators to create customer experience strategy and help engage their frontline employees in bringing the customer service to the next level. Contact us here.