Great customer service is your smile, your first “hello” as your customers walk through the door, and the first time you and your customers make eye contact. From seating, to speaking, to ordering, to requesting for items in between their meals, to making payment, and saying goodbye. It all contributes to providing what we call excellent customer service, but we barely scratched the surface. Here are some things to consider when you decide it's time to excel in customer service.
First impression matters
That smile we talked about is the first step to great customer service. One of the basic human needs is psychological needs, which includes belongingness. Hence a smile makes someone feel welcomed, accepted and that is why customers, as humans, will feel good when they are greeted by a hearty smile.
First impressions also include the first thing you say to the customers. Instead of saying did you make a reservation, with a poker face, start with a simple welcome greeting. Smile and say, “Hello, welcome to [insert restaurant name], did you make a reservation?” Or a simple “Welcome” would be wholesome enough. As all Japanese restaurants would say “irasshaimase”.
Besides that, small gestures that show you care will give you bonus points for customer service. When bringing your customers to their designated seats, it's nice to look back to see if your customers are catching up with you or getting lost in the crowd.
The last impression counts too!
After splurging a small fraction of their lifelong savings on your restaurant, some gratification would make them feel like it is all worth it in the end. It’s not only saying thank you, or goodbye, it is saying please come again, and get feedback on their experience, the food so further improvement can be made as well! It also shows that you care about their opinion and your business is constantly improving. Of course, if they do come back, they’d expect only the best ;) so, step up your game restaurants!
Gaining customer loyalty
Loyalty is not easy to gain, but once you have the customer's loyalty, you’ll never have to worry about them going to another restaurant. Humans are simple beings, we want rewards, want to be wanted, and we want to be loved. There are a few ways to gain customer loyalty, what most restaurants do is give up loyalty cards, give discounts on customer’s next visit. But these take up a fraction of your profit. Gaining loyalty through customer service, however, is free.
I used to go to a cafe and order coffee a certain way, almost every day. As the pattern continued, the staff immediately knew what I wanted as I step through their door, and ever since then I would choose this restaurant whenever I could, because I don’t have to worry about my barista messing up with my coffee, and all I do is nod as I waited (barely) for the arrival of my coffee, that was specially made for me.
Empowering your staff
I hope by now you are able to see that the essence of great customer service comes from people and to be more specific, your staff. They are the ones that meet and greet your customers and they are the ones that define whether your restaurant is a “yay” or a “nay” in customer service. Hence, it is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of your staff and assign them the job accordingly.
Someone with a sunny disposition shouldn’t be put in the back-of-house doing stock counts, they are an asset to your restaurant - a service industry, to bring forth ultimate satisfaction to your customers. Rather than training someone to smile, it is always a wiser choice to select someone who has a vibrant personality, as the feeling of warmth when interacting with them comes more naturally. Keep in mind that it's easy to train someone in skills, but personality cannot be forced.
Product knowledge and training
Oftentimes, the first impression makes or breaks their loyalty to your restaurant. Hence, we would like to serve these first time customers with only the best. This is when your staff has to have sufficient knowledge to recommend your finest food, and when customers ask, what's in this dish, it can be explained right away instead of going in the kitchen and interrupting the busy chef with his cooking. If answers are all given, it shows that the staff is trained, and you’re onto giving customers the best experience possible.
Problems will arise and things will go wrong. When dealing with these problems, the management must also set down the guidelines of what should be done, and how it should be dealt with professionally. Trust the team and trust the process. Something has to happen for the entire experience to be extremely memorable. Having a big fight with a loved one and dealing with it properly will always strengthen the bond of both individuals. However, if we leave things in bad terms, both individuals will be in bad terms forever.
I would say the same for dealing with customers. As a customer, you can always tell when a member of staff who’s dealing with you feels a sense of ownership and pride in their role. Good customer service means being eager to ensure things go smoothly or to put them right if they don’t.
Ever talked to a friend and they were so distracted that they couldn’t hear a word you say? We all know how annoying that is. A three year old named Lily Robinson wrote a letter to Sainsbury’s, a UK grocery store, asking why ‘tiger bread was called tiger bread and not giraffe bread?’. Lily was clearly onto something, as the bread really does look like a giraffe print!
In most cases, these types of suggestions are met with a simple "Thank you".
But, to Lily’s surprise, Chris King, the customer service manager of Sainsbury’s responded with “I think renaming it to giraffe bread is a brilliant idea!”. Several months later, the bread was renamed to giraffe bread.
Sometimes, some customers just like to make a big fuss on your review section. And it is great to embrace these complaints in a perky manner. This shows that you DO read reviews and you care what your customers think.
\In this case, the manager thought that the review didn't reflect reality in his cafe. Hence, putting this board out here telling people to try “the worst coffee” claimed by a woman on Tripadvisor, is a reverse psychology to attract people to try it out for themselves. Because clearly, if it was that bad, the restaurant owner would not put it out there. And if it is not as bad as they say, or it tastes very good, it will definitely spark a conversation in the review section proving the statement “The worst coffee I had in my life” wrong.
Digitize your business
One of the reasons why businesses fail is because they’re too busy focusing on non value added activities that are still essential to the company. For example, stock checking, having inter-departmental meetings, recording transactions manually, etc. Hence, digitizing these non-value-adding activities can lessen the burden in the back-of-house operations, giving you more time and energy to focus on more value-adding activities such as providing training to staff, managing your service team, and greeting customers right at the entrance.
It is rare to have restaurant owners greet their customers at the doorstep, hence having the owners themselves greet you, is something special to your customers, a bonus point for customer service!
If you’re a restaurant owner and you serve good food, then take your restaurant to the next step, with great customer service! Enhance the whole customer experience from the moment they step into your restaurant, all the way till they step out of it. And if you’re too busy for it, maybe you should start digitizing your back-end operations with Food Market Hub!
Food Market Hub is a procurement and inventory management system that centralizes and digitizes your back end operations. Save time in data entry, unravel hidden food costs and eliminate food wastage just by using our app today!
Log on to www.foodmarkethub.com to find out more!