Written by Siddhi Panchal
The global restaurant industry is witnessing a steady uptick in sales. Global food services sales are growing at 5.6%, and it is a good business to be in if you know what you are doing.
Some people open a restaurant attracted by all the glamour it brings to the table, while others are driven by their love for food. Irrespective of the reasons why you go ahead and open a restaurant, at the end of the day, it is a business venture that must earn profits, if it has to survive.
The foundation of all successful restaurants rests on food and service. If you get these two elements right your restaurant will do well no matter what.
James Rouse, a pioneering American real estate developer and philanthropist had this to say - “Profit is not the legitimate purpose of business. The legitimate purpose of business is to provide a product or service that people need and do it so well that it’s profitable.”
In the context of a restaurant, it’s all about providing the food and customer service that its patrons will love. Profit will follow.
Let’s take a look at the five ways you can enhance your restaurant’s customer service; it is about going beyond the basics:
Adopt a Continuous Customer Service Training and Development Philosophy
In order to deliver the best customer experience possible, your staff must be up-to-speed in the latest customer service etiquettes. Customers expectations are evolving all the time; as a restaurateur, you need to be able to keep track of changing customer demands and ensure your staff is trained accordingly.
Training is a continuous process and also involves monitoring your staff and addressing the mistakes they are making with focused training modules. A train-and-forget philosophy is a recipe for disaster.
A Personalized Approach
Imagine a scenario wherein a person books a table at your restaurant and the person handling reservations remembers the name, and is able to strike a quick personal conversation with the guest.
This person feels valued and immediately forms a good opinion of your restaurant, or at least its staff. Even before the person visits your restaurant with friends and/or family he/she has a good impression of the restaurant.
Here’s another scenario, wherein a person, walks-in without a reservation, and the captain recognizes him as a regular, and addresses him by name and welcomes him. Special care is then taken to ensure he and his group get seating as quickly as possible.
In this case, something as simple as remembering the name of the person hinted that the restaurant actually cared about who enters their precincts.
And don’t worry, in the age of digitization, there are plenty of restaurant-specific business intelligence tools available on the market that allow you to store customer information and access it at the click of a button. So, your staff doesn’t have to put in a lot of effort to remember someone’s name or preference.
Customize Every Step of the Way
Don’t stop at remembering your patron’s name. Why not take customization to the next level? E.g. ask them if they are celebrating a special occasion; if they are, why not do something special for them? If it’s a birthday, a cake on the house is a good idea; if it’s an anniversary, a glass of wine will enhance the couple’s restaurant outing; and so on and so forth.
Always ask, if someone in the group has specific food allergies that you should know about and which the chef must keep in mind during food preparation.
Also, if there is a special request, handle it gracefully, even if you think the kitchen might not be able to handle the request.
Be Attentive, But Give Your Guest Some Space
“Although a great restaurant experience must include great food, a bad restaurant experience can be achieved through bad service alone. Ideally, service is invisible. You notice it only when something goes wrong.”
~ Dana Spiotta
Sometimes restaurant staff, especially the waiter in charge of your table, showers so much attention on you, that you find it stifling. For you, the customer service has turned obnoxious. Make sure this doesn’t happen in your restaurant.
Yes, you must be attentive, but not at the cost of intruding on the guest’s space. They are out to have a good time, so make sure they have everything they need to have a good time and move out of the picture.
Always have an eye on the guest table, but the key here is to ensure that you don’t hover over the table all the time, and the guests feel they are alone.
Perfection is Not Possible
Strive to attain perfection in customer service, but at the back of your mind, always remember that true perfection is impossible. And remember, your guests do not expect perfect service, they expect the kind of service that ensures an enjoyable and satisfying customer experience.
For e.g. if it’s mango season, good customer service means recommending guests to choose a mango dessert, you know they will like, but great customer service is even if they say no, you bring a small bowl of cut mango to their table so that they can have a taste of the mangoes you serve (in your desserts).
For your guests, this is perfection.
Importance of Customer Service
There is a close link between customer service and profits. If you get your customer service right, you get an edge of your competitors. But remember, everyone else is also focusing on improving their customer service, so you need to think about what more you can do to differentiate yourself from competitors.
Taking your customer services to the next level helps establish brand loyalty and a solid reputation on the market. Taken together, this will help your restaurant leave its competitors way behind.
About the Author
Siddhi Panchal is a food blogger at CookingwithSiddhi and food aficionado who loves to cook. Her cooking skills cover a range of Indian and international cuisines. Her aim is to enable other food enthusiasts to explore their love for food by helping them cook delectable dishes from India and around the world. Follow her on YouTube.