Restaurant Customer Service Tips
When you open a restaurant for the first time the way that you treat your customers is of the utmost importance. After the food, customer service is the second most important part of a customers restaurant dining experience. You want your first few guests to not only return but also to speak favorably of your establishment when they talk to their friends about the new restaurant in town.
Even once you are known and loved by customers for the way you make them feel when they visit it is easy to slip up and lose ground if you are not vigilant in your attention to the customers overall experience with your restaurant.
People return to a restaurant for very specific reasons. They like the food, the service makes them feel special, the prices are great or they like the fact that they can always find a great parking space. However, it’s usually the service and the food that will keep you in the number one spot on their list of favorite restaurants.
Below we have outlined some restaurant customer service tips that you may consider implementing in your business.
Good service starts the moment a customer comes through the door. Nobody likes to be ignored and many people are uncomfortable waiting to be seating while standing in full view of the entire restaurant. If you have a large restaurant it makes good sense to have a host or hostess greet diners and summon a server to show them to their table. This kind of personalized service makes customers feel welcome and valued.
Create a Service Standard
Set out a written service standard for your employees to read. Let them know the processes that you want them to follow. For example you may decide that customers should have around five minutes to look at the menu so they don’t feel rushed when you have your waiting staff first approach them asking if they are ready to order. Some standards may be your own and some may be commonly used by many restaurants, such as serving meals at the same time to everyone at the table.
Your manager needs to do more than supervise the staff. He or she also needs to be observant when it comes to the customers. By taking a look around the dining area several times an hour, problems that management may not be aware of can be brought to attention and solved. A manager that sees a guest with a significant amount of food left on their plate might do well to ask if everything is to the patron’s liking. Many people would rather not return after a bad experience rather than complaining to a manager. By being proactive a good manager can recognize a situation and resolve it before it becomes a problem.
Cleanliness and Hygiene
Cleanliness is important, not only to the restaurant but to the diners as well. With increased awareness of the role that bacteria plays in our health, diners will quickly leave an establishment that doesn’t meet their standards of cleanliness even if it complies with the law. Be sure that your staff is responsible for cleaning the tables, wiping down chairs and child seats and checking the underside of tables too.
Be sure to provide your clientele with sparkling bathrooms. If you have room for it in your budget you may even want to post an attendant in these areas to keep the sinks clean and dry, replace the towels when needed and watch for spills or plumbing problems. As a bare minimum, you should have the restrooms checked at least once per hour by an employee willing to give the sinks a quick wipe or replace paper towels and tissue paper.
Don’t Waste a Diners Time
There’s nothing more irritating to a customer than a delay in leaving a restaurant once they have finished their meal. If there is not a cashier available for some reason and they are left standing at the register they may not return. Alleviate these situations by allowing the server to present the check and return for the payment, a real convenience for the customer as they can avoid lines at the cashier.
Instruct your servers to stop by their tables at least once during their guests’ meals and ask if everything is alright. Some of the more progressive restaurants are instituting signaling systems so that diners can summon their servers if they need them rather than waiting to attract their attention.
Scripted or Authentic Service
These days many of the larger chains have service that is very artificial and can even be scripted. Let your staff know the basics in terms of what you want them to say at certain times throughout a customers time with you. But also let them know that they can be themselves and add in some of their own personality. This will make for a more genuine, friendly experience for diners rather than something which may come across as insincere and artificial.
Customer Service Surveys
There are some great ways that you can check up on the customer service that is being delivered by your staff on the dining room floor. One way is to ask customers to complete a survey about the service that they experienced with your restaurant. When you do this you should not only be looking for staff members that may be letting you down. You should also be looking for ways to improve customer service overall.
Customer service can really make or break a restaurant. If you open a restaurant with the attitude that the customer is the king and do everything within reason to make their experience in your restaurant enjoyable and memorable then you will be well on your way to success.
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