Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
BEGIN SERVING THE CUSTOMER BEFORE THEY REACH YOUR DOOR
Your web presence is the first experience customers have with you and your business. Can they find you easily online; when they do find you what will they see?
Customers let websites and online reviews decide for them which restaurant to visit, use your website to give customers a sneak peek at your restaurant and set the mood.
Recently I took a trip with my daughter and my niece. We had become hungry after being out all day so we searched online for a place to eat.
The girls wanted to eat at an Asian style buffet restaurant, but none that we found during our online research had a website. We read quite a few online reviews and finally settled on a restaurant but by this time we weren’t feeling confident in our choice.
P.S. The restaurant we chose was terrible.
Twitter is another tool some people use to find restaurants. A restaurant that responds promptly to tweets from potential guests and encourage their visit can increase attendance. That level of personalized service can help foster strong bonds with customers.
TRAIN FRIENDLY, KNOWLEDGEABLE AND EFFICIENT STAFF
Thoroughly train your staff in the importance of great customer service and pair new hires with top performers for the training period.
Be sure that your wait staff is well versed in the menu and the specials.
They must be able to answer questions about what ingredients are, how items are prepared and what potential allergens may be in the food. Communication with the kitchen is key especially where food allergies are concerned.
A good friend of mine gave his wife a surprise party at a really swanky facility. He informed the event planner that his son, who would be in attendance, has a severe peanut allergy.
The night of the party one of the passed hors d’oeuvres had peanuts in the sauce. The birthday girl spent the night in the emergency room with her son. (Don’t worry, he’s fine now)
You never want a guest to have to use their EPI pen as dessert after dining with you.
HANDLE COMPLAINTS QUICKLY AND POLITELY
The way your staff handles customer complaints can make or break your business. Listen to your customer and be sure you understand what the problem is. Don’t make excuses for mistakes and delays:
My husband had a long wait in the drive through of a restaurant a few days ago. When he reached the cashier he mentioned the long wait, the cashier replied “Well, we’re short staffed”. No apology was offered. Needless to say, he won’t return.
Don’t wait for a customer to complain, be proactive. Wait staff and managers should observe the customers for signs of distress.
Is the guest picking at their food? Are they looking around the restaurant as if they need something? Wait staff should be attentive to this even if isn’t their table and address the guests’ needs.
Learn from your mistakes. Keep a record of issues as they arise, note how they were resolved and put systems in place to prevent repeat offenses.
GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE LEADS TO GREAT WORD OF MOUTH
Give your guests the opportunity to brag about your establishment by going above and beyond in the customer service department. If you provide polite, personalized service to your guests not only will they return, but they will tell others about you. Give your customers awesome stories to tell about you.
Demetra Overton is Chef/Owner of Sweet Savant; Your Personal Chef based in the metropolitan Atlanta area and writes the blog Sweet Savant. Demetra honed her customer service expertise while working for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel where she served on their committee for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. To contact Demetra or read her delicious recipes and helpful cooking tips please visit her blog at www.SweetSavant.wordpress.com