User-reviews from sources like Google, Yelp and OpenTable have changed our approach dining. According to RestaurantDive, “77% of diners check restaurant websites before visiting”. That means your customer experiences – good and bad – influence diners’ choices. The good news about bad reviews is that although they are inevitable, how you address them and the strategies you use to avoid them can drive the positive reviews that will bring diners through your doors. Ensuring customers have a great experience at your restaurant is essential to the success of your business while also helping your serving & kitchen staff make better tips – so it’s a win-win.
There are several things you can do to build and maintain a customer-service oriented food service operation.
1. Respond to all complaints.
Whenever, wherever you receive a complaint, always address it. From small kitchen mishaps to large mistakes with detrimental consequences, taking accountability and offering a formal apology for a problem with service is the first step to having a good customer service-oriented culture. Restaurant Hospitality reported: “…addressing one customer’s complaint increases that customer’s advocacy by up to 25%, ignoring a complaint has the opposite effect, lowering advocacy by as much as 47 percent.”
Almost every diner has experienced a meal that is less-than-satisfactory at a restaurant. However, the way the restaurant responds to the complaint or feedback is what determines the relationship going forward.
So, what do you do when a customer has a complaint? Step 1: Actively listen to the customer, so they understand that you are taking their concerns seriously and so that you can appropriately determine how to solve the problem. Remain calm while listening and be prepared to take action to rectify the situation. Step 2: Offer an apology. Saying ‘Sorry’ goes a long way. Empathize and apologize. Step 3: Provide a solution. The solution can be in the form of a replacement meal, a discount, a gift card for a future visit, or if there is something reasonable in particular that the customer is seeking as remediation, try that route.
2. Build relationships with guests.
Being customer-obsessed means knowing and understanding your customers. Greet customers at the door, maintain low wait times, and encourage polite and respectful dialogue to help leave a good impression every time. Relationship building can be as simple as addressing guests by name and can go further when you have a loyalty program in place that allows you to understand and learn customer behaviour and preferences. Being friendly and engaging with your visitors helps to build personal relationships. It’s no secret that people buy from people they like – so be likeable, friendly, and interact.
3. Welcome and encourage feedback.
Being able to embrace feedback is a critical part of delivering good customer service. All team members, from servers & cashiers to kitchen staff, should welcome customer feedback in order to help them improve. Encouraging your guests to give feedback through surveys and by providing incentives is a good way to keep a pulse on your customer service skills.
4. Train your employees.
Having a well-trained staff helps to deliver an overall better customer experience, as they will be able to properly address questions on your menu, provide helpful recommendations, and reduce errors. When guests have inquiries, you want your team to be able to confidently and professionally provide responses, so conduct thorough onboarding and perform seasonal training sessions as your food and beverage offerings diversify. Food and beverage tasting is a great way to help your team interact with the menu and provide helpful recommendations – not to mention, who doesn’t love free food?
By focusing on customer service you can help drive your business’ success in 2022. Technology is also available to help support your team shorten wait times, reduce errors due to tableside ordering, and improve kitchen and order management. To learn more about how technology can help you deliver better customer service at your food service venue, talk to us today.