10 Signs of Restaurant Customer Service Disaster

Running a restaurant is hard work. You have to plan meals, stock inventory, maintain supplies and licensure, manage staffing issues, and, oh yeah, cook amazing food. With all this craziness going on every single day, it’s not surprising that your restaurant might be forgetting to do something, even something incredibly important. If you look around your restaurant and notice any of the following things happening, you’ll need to switch your focus. Fast. Here are ten signs that your customer service is a total disaster.

1.  Posted hours and actual hours don’t match

Late (or early) customers are a fact of the restaurant business. Your customers expect you to be open whenever they’re hungry, and if they’re polite, nice people, they’ll look up your hours online or in your take-out menu. You should be polite as well. Don’t make them drive across town to be disappointed.

2.  Empty water glasses stay empty

Sometimes your diners take bites that are too big. They cough, they splutter, and they reach out for a big drink of water… only to find that their glass is still empty. Don’t embarrass your guests by making them ask for water while they’re choking. Fill those glasses regularly.

3.  Servers are hard to find

If your guests have to wait to make their order (or to pay their bill) they may decide to forgo ordering (or paying) altogether. Don’t tempt them.

4.  Soda is flat

I’m not the only person to whom a flat soda suggests old, poorly maintained equipment. Giving your guests a reason to doubt your restaurant’s upkeep opens the door for them to doubt a lot more, too.

5.  Glasses or coffee cups have lipstick marks

If you don’t want your guests questioning your food equipment, you really don’t want them questioning your dishwasher. Really.

6.  Shoes stick to your floor

Um, eeew? When my shoes stick to the floor of a movie theater, I think, “What kind of sketchy people sit in the back row of a movie theater?” Then I leave.

When my shoes stick to the floor of a restaurant, I think, “They probably have cockroaches here.” Then I leave.

7.  Vacant tables display empty plates

Going out to eat is supposed to make your guests feel relaxed and pampered. If you leave dirty dishes out on your empty tables, your diners will be reminded about all the dirty dishes they have in their own sink. Call me crazy, but I believe that thinking about chores while at a restaurant is pretty much the opposite of feeling pampered.

8.  Menu items are crossed out

Printing new menus can be expensive. But if your customers notice that you’ve taken strange economies with menu paper, they’ll wonder what economies you’re taking in the kitchen. By the way, a digital menu serves up great customer service and reduces your printing costs. Just sayin’.

9.  Salads are served warm

Maybe you stuck a fresh salad on a just-cleaned plate. Maybe it sat under the warmer for a little while when your server disappeared. Either way, your guest just paid a lot for some warm, limp lettuce when what they really wanted was a double cheeseburger with fries. It’s hard to feel righteous about your healthy meal choice when it’s droopy.

10. No one says “Thank you”

If you’re lucky, your customers are saying this to you so often that you’re tired of hearing it. However, even if you hear “thank you” a lot, they only get to hear it once. Make their one and only thank you a memorable one.

Does your customer service need servicing?

If your restaurant has problems keeping up with cleanliness, attentive servers, or kind management, you’ll need to work hard to woo your customers and restore their faith in your abilities. Luckily, most restaurants can fix these problems easily with just some extra staff training, clear checklists, and an eye that you’ve retrained to notice small details. Tonight, start paying attention to how you can make your customers happier at every stage of their dining experience, then take action.

Photo licensed by Petras Gagilas