Saira Salman (March 20, 2014)
Being in the restaurant business requires extreme care and constant effort in terms of customer service. Surviving in this industry can be cutthroat and is not only based on the quality of service but also its delivery. Attention should be given to each customer’s preference so they feel valued and look forward to coming back to the restaurant. It is essential for restaurants to focus on providing a memorable dining experience, by an amalgamation of various factors, such as delicious food, display and presentation, impeccable service and a relaxing ambiance. A blend of all these factors will lead to customer satisfaction and retention.
“Atmosphere” does not just mean the décor and the location, but the overall ambiance as well, which can further improve the level of experience provided. Nobody likes to eat in a place where the aura is dull, monotonous and practically boring. Customers come out to dine so that they are entertained and enjoy a pleasurable experience. Once you have started out in the restaurant business, you will understand the fact that even if the food is great, if the place has a bad interior design or an uncomfortable environment it is bound to create a negative impression in the mind of the customer. The right kind of music, artwork or fresh flowers can add to the overall experience of dining.
There are several ways to keep the customers happy, such as attending to all their needs, looking out to see if he or she wants something, maybe a refill, or some extra sauce on their steak. The goal is to delight the customer, where he or she has a smooth experience, effortlessly, while the staff looks after them. A great way to understand what the customer wants would be to go into your own restaurant as a customer and measure the service at different levels.
Have something special from time to time like a “Free Drinks Day” or “Special Brunch Sunday” which will not only make things interesting, but will give you the edge over your competitors and bring positive customer reviews. Giving discount coupons is another great way to make the customer want to come back and bring family and friends along.
Taking feedback from customers is essential, firstly it makes the customer feel valued, that their opinion matters, and secondly it gives perspective to the restaurant, on where it stands and what can be done to improve delivery and satisfaction. The customer service team should be open to criticism, because it helps the business grow, if they learn from their mistakes and fix the loopholes.
The staff should be sincere to the service they provide, keeping customer satisfaction at the center of the service. Accommodating the customer is a must for restaurant staff, because it directly impacts the service experience. Statements such as “No, it’s too late”, “we don’t have it” etc. should be off the list.
If a customer wants an alternate option on the menu, don’t say it cannot be done. For example if a customer asks for mashed potatoes with their meal instead of fries…accommodate. A willingness to meet the needs of your customer will have long term positive effects on the growth of your business.
Most customers complain about rude, disinterested or inattentive waiters, who waste time and don’t pay enough attention to the customer. With an abundance of options available in the market, customers can easily get agitated and go for a better dining experience elsewhere.
The right type of staff can actually help retain customers, by giving personal attention, smiling, being polite and looking for little details and preferences of the customer. The staff must be welcoming, friendly and sensitive to the requirement of the customer, always looking out for them.
Train your waiters and service staff to think in terms of better customer experience. For example, suggesting what to order, what is good on the menu, informing customers about the accurate waiting time, not clearing the table until the customer is done are little steps which go a long way to enhance the overall level of service.
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