How to Improve Customer Service at Your Restaurant

Written by  on 19 October 2015

No matter the type of restaurant you operate, providing top-notch customer service is a must because the better your customer service, the higher the degree of customer satisfaction. And satisfied patrons are integral to your revenue: A recent Harvard Business School study on Starbucks demonstrates that satisfied customers visit 4.3 times per month, spend $4.06, and continue to patronize the chain for 4.4 years, while highly satisfied customers visit 7.2 times per month, spend $4.42, and remain loyal to the chain for 8.3 years. With this in mind, here are a few tips for improving customer service at your restaurant.

1. Remind employees to exercise good manners

Great customer service starts with greeting diners the minute they walk in the door, and it continues with sharing information about the items on your menu—what they contain, how they’re prepared, etc. You can leverage your POS terminals to remind employees about greeting customers by running a message to that effect across the bottom of each screen. Do something similar if you have a table or reservations management system at your hostess stand.

2. Provide patrons with important product information

Another tenet of top-tier customer service is ensuring that patrons have the information they need—and want—to make ordering decisions. This includes not only details of how menu items are prepared, but if possible, real-time information about availability. Consider arming waitstaff at table service restaurants with hand-held devices they can use to convey details about menu items or, in a more casual environment, utilizing a tablet POS system that incorporates digital menus with photographic descriptions of your fare. Integrating your POS system with digital menu boards will let you update the latter throughout the day, letting customers know when an item is no longer available and giving them ample time to select an alternative.

3. Speed up service

Is your restaurant known for serving high-quality food and drink, maybe even the best in town? That’s great, but unless you can get quick service/counter service orders into diners’ hands in a flash or deliver the first drinks and/or appetizers to their tables within a few minutes after they’re ordered, you’re bound to hear grumbles about poor customer service. So speeding up service is imperative.

Your POS system and other technology can help to turn so-so customer service into stellar customer service. For example, in quick-service and counter service restaurants, employees can use tablets to take customers’ orders as they stand in line and transmit them to the kitchen or food preparation area. They can even take payments, so customers need only grab their orders when they reach the front of the queue.

In table service restaurants, mobile devices can be used to transmit order components to the bar or kitchen as diners relay these requests to servers. Kitchen and bar staff can get started on preparation before servers leave tables, and runners may even be able to deliver drinks and/or appetizers before customers are finished ordering. You can also speed up service—and enhance customer service—by adding a pay-at-the-table component to your POS system.

Do you offer takeout and delivery? Make it easier and faster for customers to place and even pay ahead for orders by interfacing your POS system with an online ordering module and/or mobile app.

4. Fix problems immediately

Listen to customers describe any problem(s) they may be experiencing, without interrupting them as they speak. Take ownership of the trouble or mistake, apologizing even if you don’t agree that blame belongs on your restaurant’s side rather than with the individual patron. Remain calm, maintain eye contact, and ask the individual what he or she would like. Apologize again as you offer the “fix”—for instance, going back into your POS system and removing an item from the check or adding a complimentary one to compensate for an error.

5. Train, train, and train some more

The ins and outs of providing good customer service aren’t necessarily ingrained in employees, so include these as part of every new hire’s training and offer periodic “refresher courses.” Training should cover everything from how to greet customers and take orders to handling complaints. Don’t forget to train employees on the POS system and any other technology (e.g., kitchen printers, mobile devices) they may be using in the course of their jobs. Improper operation can interfere with customer service.

Customer service can make or break your restaurant’s reputation. Heed the above tips, and you’ll be able to support a stellar one.

Read 451 times Last modified on Friday, 16 October 2015 19:33

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