Starting a restaurant business and making customers love the food and service you offer isn’t an easy job. Customer preferences are ever changing and their demands keep increasing with time as well. While some might find your overfriendly staff, as warm and welcoming, others may complain of them being too candid. Creating the right mix of elements can strongly impact your service as well as customer loyalty. Let’s look at some useful ways in which you can improve your restaurant’s offerings and get more customers to dine with you.
Design of the Menu
The first and foremost ingredient for a successful restaurant is to offer a unique menu with plenty of options. Customers like to have different choices when ordering so they can enjoy something that suits their palate and preference. Make sure you have a balanced menu with options to select from, and those can be customized for the convenience of the customer.
A lot of people have moved towards a healthy lifestyle and prefer to have low fat or low carb meals, even when they are dining out. Keeping some options to match their needs will attract more customers.
Some restaurants have added innovative ideas to their menus, by letting customers design and customize their own meals. This allows customers to get involved, which leads to a higher level of engagement and satisfaction, resulting in more loyal customers.
Customers of today have evolved to become digitally savvy and connected with the rest of the world. They often engage with the brand on multiple platforms before they actually buy something or avail a service. Checking social media pages to learn about the business, their offerings and customer reviews and ratings is a very common practice. Make sure you have a well-connected and established digital presence.
Interactive social media pages on Facebook and Instagram, heighten the experience of the customer, who can view high definition pictures of some of the items on the menu as well as read enticing descriptions and insightful reviews etc. Invest in strengthening your restaurant’s social media presence so it can stand out in all the noise and abundance of options available out there.
Some businesses also offer a free drink or coffee when a customer checks into their restaurant in their social media feeds. This creates more exposure for businesses as other customers can learn about the place and the experience it offers.
Making the customer’s experience memorable cannot be achieved unless the service has been personalized to his or her needs. Starting with remembering names and greeting them warmly when they re-visit, is essential, since it increases familiarity and builds an emotional connection, making the customer feel more valued.
Remember the preferences of your customers and ask them if they would like their food the way they normally do. Remembering how the customer likes his or her steak or the toppings they got removed from the salad the last time, builds value and appreciation. Knowing the restaurant is paying attention to little details in order to deliver a quality experience, increases dining frequency.
Some customers can have dietary restrictions, or have an allergy, and may expect the restaurant to remember this the next time they visit. If customers don’t mention any such issues, its best to ask them if they would like you to be careful about anything, so that there are no problems faced later.
Ambiance and Design
The environment plays a crucial role in the dining experience for a customer. A well thought lay out, with focus on décor and comfort, contributes largely to the value a customer associates with a business. For customers looking to have a pleasant experience, the music being played is important, the lights, the energy of the place as well as the layout of the dining area. Ensure that the design and seating area matches the theme of the restaurant and adds to the overall experience you are planning to offer.
For example, if you’re running a café, then a nice coffee house playlist and some posters and quotes hanging on the wall, can add to the overall experience. Whereas a Thai restaurant, will have a different theme, with instrumental music and perhaps rice paper lanterns might be more appropriate. Spend time in designing the overall feel of your restaurant, and think through the little steps which can be taken to heighten the experience and add to the overall value of the service.
Collect and Utilize Feedback
Since the restaurant business is serving on such a personal level, it can invite more criticism or feedback as compared to other industries. An experience at a restaurant is one that has almost instant gratification, so customers usually make their opinions about the restaurant in the first twenty minutes or so.
Asking customers for feedback about their food and overall service quality is essential. This firstly shows the customer that his or her opinion is valued and second it helps improve service and food quality in the future. This also opens up doors to learning about factors that might have bothered the customer and the restaurant never thought about them to start with. For instance, asking questions about the taste and quantity of food, ambiance and attitude of staff, help in understanding customer perceptions.
Invest in Training the Staff
A well trained staff is the crux of quality customer service at a restaurant. The staff is involved in all stages of service, from offering a seat, taking the order and assisting the customer in serving them etc. Employee retention is one of the most important element when it comes to offering consistent and dependable service every time. You cannot have an untrained employee cater to customers.
There is little to no use investing in staff when the company is unable to retain them. So invest in your employees and make them satisfied with the work experience at your restaurant, so they can in turn make customers happy as well.
Hire people who are creative thinkers and are capable of working under pressure and handle stress. Customers can be overcritical when it comes to their food, and can get rude with the restaurant staff. Well trained staff, who can manage their own stress as well as the mood of the customer, can usually handle the situation more skillfully.
Invest into their training, by conducting workshops as well as training them to focus on the details in order to provide a better service experience.