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Restaurant Customer Service

One of the most important elements to consider when running a restaurant is the quality of the customer service you provide. Good customer service includes providing courteous and quick service to meet customers' needs during their dining experience, which can determine whether or not someone becomes a recurring customer.

Good customer service is important in the restaurant industry because it can determine the overall success of the establishment. Here is a list of reasons why it's so important:

  • Happy customers generate more positive feedback and reviews for your restaurant.

  • Excellent customer service can increase revenue.

  • Satisfied customers are more likely to become regular customers.

  • The longevity of a business usually relies on good customer service

I've stated many time before the three aspects of quality foodservice; service, ambiance and food. Service is always #1, no contest. If I have a bad customer service experience, regardless of great food and ambiance, I won't be back, period. If I could put the following list in three simple statements it would be; know your customer, know your product and understand the proper steps of quality customer service!

1. Greet the customer with a smile

Example: As a family of four walks into the restaurant, the hostess smiles and welcomes them. She then asks the family if they prefer a booth or a table. The father, Chris, says they would like a table, and the hostess says she has one ready for them. As she walks the family to their table, she asks them if they're dining out for a special occasion, and the mom, Janet, replies that it's her husband's birthday. The hostess wishes the husband a happy birthday and offers the family a discounted appetizer with their meals before seating them.

Explanation: As soon as a customer walks into the restaurant, their customer experience begins. Try to greet customers enthusiastically as soon as they enter the building. As you walk them to their table, you can ask them questions like if they've had a good day or if there's any special reason they're dining out. Many customers appreciate this friendliness as you seat them at their table. Small gestures like these show customers that the staff cares about providing a positive dining experience.

2. Be prompt and attentive

Example: Shortly after, the waiter comes to the table, introduces himself as Allen and asks how they are enjoying their evening. He then asks if they have any questions about the drink menu before taking their drink order. Several minutes later, he brings water to the table after he realizes the drink orders are taking longer than usual. He apologizes for the wait and tells them that drinks are behind schedule because of the dinner rush. He asks if there's anything he can get them in the meantime. When he returns with their drinks, he brings them complimentary breadsticks.

Explanation: Promptly taking care of customers' needs is an essential part of good customer service. When a customer places a drink order, try to get it back to them quickly. If their drink orders are taking longer to get than usual, bring them water and be upfront and informative about why their drinks are taking extra time. Let them know you're bringing them as soon as they're ready, so the diners are aware their needs are still a priority.

3. Know the restaurant's products

Example: After giving the family a few more minutes to look at the menu, the waiter comes back and asks if they have any questions about the menu before they order. Janet says she can't decide between the fried fish or the chicken Alfredo. Allen tells her that of those two options, the pasta may be a better choice if she prefers a more creamy and savory taste, but many of the customers comment about how great the fried fish is. She opts for the fish, and then the rest of the family orders their food.

Explanation: The products of a restaurant are its food and drinks, so having a thorough knowledge of the food your restaurant offers is part of providing excellent customer service. Many customers have trouble deciding what to eat and appreciate the suggestions of their server to help them decide. Consider familiarizing yourself with the menu so that you can answer questions about appetizers, main courses, drinks and desserts in addition to suggesting menu items depending on the customer's preferences.

4. Make the experience personal

Example: Before Allen comes back with their check, he remembers the hostess mentioned the family is celebrating Chris's birthday. He brings the family a complimentary ice cream sundae and wishes Chris a happy birthday on behalf of the staff.

Explanation: Customers are more likely to become recurring patrons when they experience a more personal dining experience where the customer service exceeded their expectations. Extending the offer for a free dessert on a customer's birthday or giving a flower to each mom on Mother's Day are a few ways you can make the dining experience more personal for customers.

5. Be proactive

Example: As Allen walks past the family's table again, he notices that they could use some more napkins and that Janet ate most of her cocktail sauce. He takes a few moments to get some more sauce and some extra napkins for the table. When he goes back to check on them, he places everything on their table and asks if there's anything else they need, but they say no and thank him for bringing them the napkins and cocktail sauce and express how much they appreciate him for being aware of what they needed.

Explanation: Try to anticipate customers' needs before they ask for something. If you see that their drink needs a refill or think that they might want extra sides of condiments with their food, be proactive and bring it to them. This shows awareness of their needs in advance, and the customers are likely to recognize and appreciate your attentiveness to their table.

6. Ask for customer feedback

Example: After Allen delivers the check, he asks Chris and Janet if they would be interested in filling out a quick comment card or customer survey on their phones before they leave. He tells them he appreciates their feedback and that it helps to improve customer service for the next time they come in for a meal. He thanks them for dining at the restaurant, wishes Chris a happy birthday again and tells them to have a great rest of their evening.

Explanation: Consider asking customers to fill out comment cards or complete a customer survey before they leave. This shows that you're interested in their feedback regarding your service and that you care about what you did well and how you can improve. Using comment cards allows you to understand the quality of your service from the perspective of the customer, which can be a great way to discover ideas for how to improve in the future.

Finally a little humour to start the week right;

Cheers, and have a great week!

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