When it comes to setting yourself apart, customer service is key. It can make or break a patron’s experience in a restaurant. In a competitive market, excellent customer service is essential and the great thing is that it just requires setting an expectation among staff that customers are paramount. Here are five tips taken from restaurant owners with whom we work that will help keep customer service in the forefront.
Create a Culture of Service
From the onset of hiring, the expectation needs to be set that customer service is important. Staff observe how others currently treat customers, including owners. They take cures from those things. Creating a culture of service means that everyone from the chef to the kitchen staff to the servers should be on board. Implementing training programs that help teach and reward staff for excellent service and attentiveness makes a big difference in a restaurant’s culture.
Manage Wait Lists and Reservations
Customers want to know up front what to expect. Keeping things timely and service oriented involves being honest with customers and staying on track. Avoid the urge to overbook thinking more money can be made if the appropriate staff are not in line to handle the overflow. You may manage to service a lot of people in one evening, but if they are disappointed in the service or the timing they might not return.
This sounds simple but it’s amazing how many times we all have had experiences where we went out looking to relax and be served and we had to deal with a cranky waiter or bus boy. While everyone has a personal life and we all have challenging days, encourage staff to leave those issues at the door and put on a positive persona. When staff are encouraged to take pride in their job and they are also treated in a friendly and positive way by others within the establishment they are more likely to pass that happiness on to customers.
Ask for Feedback
Asking patrons for feedback is a great way to find out what kind of experience they are having. Ask specifically about their service experience, what they enjoyed and what could be done better. Share comments with employees, both positive and constructive. Work as a team to make improvements.
Show Customers Appreciation
Patrons who frequent your establishment on a regular basis are extremely important. Show them that by extending a few perks. Consider comp’ing them a free meal, drink or dessert on occasion. Tell them you appreciate their business. Small tokens on appreciation go a long way. Give staff the green light to do this occasionally with loyal customers. They will feel empowered and also develop positive relationships with their repeat customers.
Commit to excellence in service and your restaurant will benefit. At Bar and Restaurant Insurance, we have a great appreciation for the staff at the restaurants we frequent and insure. As our way of saying thank you, as a sponsor of this year’s Arizona Restaurant Association Foodist 2016 awards, we created a special honorarium for an outstanding employee. This year, Laura Baldassarre of Wildflower Bread Company was awarded $500 for her excellent in service. Congrats to her and thanks to the ARA for allowing us to show our appreciation and create this award!