The quality of food is undoubtedly what draws in customers. However, the quality of service can determine whether or not diners return to the establishment. This makes it vital to provide the best customer experience.
By prioritizing restaurant customer service, establishments can promote guest satisfaction, retention, and advocacy.
5 Ways to Improve Restaurant Customer Service
A restaurant's success is dependent on its ability to provide excellent customer service. Customer service involves open communication, assistance, and attention so guests feel welcomed and accommodated.
Poor customer service leads to unsatisfied customers, lower retention rates, and bad reviews. Therefore, restaurants should seek to improve their customer service by-
1. Prioritizing the Customers' Needs from the Start
Although food is vital to customer satisfaction, guests begin their customer experience from the moment they walk into a restaurant to the moment they leave. During the entire visit, restaurants are responsible for addressing guests' needs and concerns. While interacting with customers, employees should focus on-
- Greet and open the door for diners.
- Use the appropriate titles, such as sir, ma'am, and miss.
- Do not interrupt guests when they are speaking.
- Actively listen to requests and pay attention to their needs.
- Ask questions when orders are unclear and repeat orders for quality assurance.
- Be well versed in the menu and specials.
- If there is a guest of honor, serve them first. Otherwise, serve the table, starting with women, men, then children.
- Serve and clear dishes to the customer's left. When guests are having a conversation, politely alert diners that they are handing out or taking plates.
- Serve and refill drinks from the diners' right.
- When serving meals, servers should not call out orders unless they have forgotten. Every waiter should have a system so they know which plate goes to each guest.
- Do not pressure guests to pay and leave. Make diners feel comfortable to stay and talk after their meal.
- Do not make customers ask for the check, bring it out in a timely manner after clearing all plates.
2. Reducing Customer Wait Times
Diners visit a restaurant because they want the convenience of a served meal. If customers are made to wait too long to be seated, receive drinks or appetizers, they can become frustrated and leave, regardless of how good the food is.
Once customers experience this negative turning point, it can be difficult for restaurants to win back dissatisfied guests. Therefore, management must ensure there is enough staff ready to minimize customer wait times. If the cooking staff is slammed with orders, servers should advise diners in advance that their meal will take a bit longer to come out.
The speed of service is vital for every business, as it ensures customers can get in and out of a restaurant in a timely manner. Customers generally have an estimated duration that they would like to spend in a restaurant, and if this time is extended, they can become irritated.
However, speed should not be prioritized over the quality of service. Guests should expect and receive the same level of high-quality customer service and food during every visit.
3. Resolving Issues Immediately
All restaurants are bound to receive customer complaints, and it is up to the business to reconcile the damages immediately. Waiting to resolve an issue can leave guests frustrated, resulting in poor reviews, low advocacy, and a damaged reputation.
When dealing with customer complaints, restaurants need to-
- Actively listen to their issue without interrupting.
- Acknowledge and take responsibility for the problem.
- Stay calm and collected, even when not in agreeance with the guest.
- Maintain eye contact and ensure body language is not negative or condescending.
- Ask the customer how they feel the problem should be solved.
- Empathize with the guest, rather than placing the blame.
- Apologize for any wrongdoing.
- Solve the problem as quickly as possible, without any drama.
4. Generating Customer Feedback
Restaurants can show their guests that they value their opinions by launching regular surveys to generate feedback.
Surveys can be as simple as a single question or as complex as a list of rating prompts. Either way, businesses can gauge customers' satisfaction and the performance of their different services.
Management can also leave comment cards on each table, where diners can leave suggestions on how the restaurant can improve their food and customer service. This enables establishments to continuously better their performance and the customer experience.
5. Leveraging Technology
With management software like a point-of-sale (POS) system, restaurants can expand their services to enhance the customer experience. With a POS solution, businesses can offer-
- Online Ordering
An integrated POS system ensures all customers, regardless of where they originate, view the same menu, access the same services, and have the same experience. By expanding services to online browsers, restaurants can acquire new customers, generating more sales and income.
- Table Tablets
With mobile tablets, customers can place and pay for their orders from their tables, without intervention from servers. This can increase a restaurant's speed of service and streamline the ordering process.