If you visit a restaurant and the food was great but the service, less than great, would you be in a rush to return? If the food was 'ok' but the service amazing, I am absolutely sure you would be more likely to return.
This is a true reflection of what all customers want, expect and need when spending their hard earned cash in your restaurant. This happened to me very recently, I visited a highly regarded restaurant with my family, the food, as expected, was beautiful but this was significantly let down by bad service - we won't be returning in a hurry.
We depend heavily upon good quality customer service to ensure a positive experience for every customer, and word of mouth advertising is the best and most cost-effective way to promote a business. Restaurants are arguably even more service reliant than the retail industry, so restaurants depend on their managers and staff to provide and uphold a positive environment for every customer.
Training is key to customer service, but training is a difficult investment in both time and money to bare for most. Untrained staff will be nervous and 'on-the-back-foot' and this can transfer across to the customer, resulting in them also feeling on edge and not relaxed. A well trained member of staff should be able to comfortably up-sell, increasing revenue and giving the customer what they didn't know they wanted. A comfortable, relaxed customer will stay longer and spend more.
Customer service is much more than selling food and drink, your staff need to be 'on stage' from the moment they start their shift, they are creating special moments and memories for people. I have been into restaurants where there's only a couple of tables seated yet the energy and atmosphere in there is electric, conversely, I have been in busy restaurants that are lifeless and awkward.
Customers appreciate a smile, a genuine welcome and farewell from efficient and knowledgeable staff who genuinely know their jobs and understand that being in hospitality is about being hospitable. Everything that a customer experiences from the moment they enter is the result of good standards of customer service. I have always worked to the following 8 key points of customer service that formulate a key structure in the 'CUSTOMER JOURNEY'
The following eight steps don’t necessarily come in any particular order, apart from the welcome and farewell obviously. They do, however, combine to make the success of a professional restaurant operation.
These 8 key points of service are:
1. Welcome - The Welcome is one of the most important parts of the experience. A smiling “Hello”, can take a stranger and make them feel welcome in any environment.
2. Salesmanship - Salesmanship is how everything is ‘offered’ (sold) to a customer. From the booking on the phone, to the food and drink consumed during their experience.
3. Showmanship - Showmanship means the whole performance – Whether it's a smile, caring nature or simple passion. All these things are what sets great customer service apart from the dreary restaurant that you went to last week! All these things are what customers remember and will tell all of their friends about.
4. Presentation - This covers every aspect of the restaurant, from how the outside of the building is presented, the food being the correct temperature, the drinks being cold, to the toilet being free from tissue on the floor.
5. Product Knowledge - 'KNOWLEDGE IS POWER' and power denotes success. All your staff should have a thorough working knowledge of all menus in operation.
6. Customer Awareness - This means, know exactly what your customers are doing from the second they walk in to the second they leave. If staff are totally aware of their environment, their jobs become easier and customer satisfaction is increased.
7. Two Minute Rule - What is the two-minute rule? The two-minute rule is the time to allow guests to have their food or drink before checking back with them and make sure everything is great. After two minutes, most guests will have had time to try their food or drink and know whether or not it was prepared to their satisfaction.
8. Farewell - A warm, genuine farewell is essential. There is a little known psychological term called the recency effect that basically says that we tend to remember or place more emphasis on the last event we experience. That’s good to know if you want to score a few extra points at the end of the guest experience.
You need to have a rock star guest oriented culture. Make sure every point is carefully examined and refined. You need to have consistent training going every day. You should continually invest in your team by providing them with resources to make them better and to offer the best customer service.