How to Improve Restaurant Customer Experience
Customer experience can make or break a restaurant. That’s always been the case. But in todays world of social media, word travels at hyper-speed. You don’t want your restaurant’s reputation to be shredded by an angst-fueled Yelper with a bone to pick over bad service. There are a few easy steps to follow when it comes to customer service. These are guidelines to great service. You should implore your service staff to remember these tips. Trust me, your guests will care more about these things than they do the Saturday night fish special.
Communication is the key to any relationship. This includes the relationship a server has with guests. Good communication isn’t just informing the guest what the daily special is. It is communicating to the customer the ideal dining experience at your restaurant.
Let’s say you are a restaurant that serves small plates meant to be shared by the table. Make sure your customers know this. Many times, these types of restaurants don’t course out dishes like a French or Italian restaurant. They serve dishes when they are ready in the kitchen. Let your customers know these things ahead of time. Customers should be aware how the kitchen functions. You should let them know which dishes take the longest to prepare. Or if you serve large or small plates, how much food will be enough?
If the kitchen cannot make changes to certain dishes, make customers aware. And if the opposite is true, that the kitchen can alter dishes to make them friendly for dietary restrictions like vegetarian or allergies, alert your customers. This will keep them from being disappointed or unpleasantly surprised during the meal.
Also, if something does go wrong, (it eventually will) be upfront and open with your guests. If the kitchen is slammed, make them aware that it will be a few minutes longer than normal. Don’t throw anyone under the bus, but don’t leave your guests sitting in the dark wondering why their plates are empty.
Your staff should be properly trained on your menus and how to handle common guest questions and requests. The onus to train staff falls squarely on the restaurant and its managers.
Training guides should be provided on both food and beverage menus. Proper training improves server knowledge which leads to a better customer experience and can also increase restaurant sales. It’s truly a situation where everyone wins.
One of the benefits restaurateurs love about Uncorkd is that it’s a great tool for training service staff. Our same database information that allows customers to feel more comfortable and satisfied with their beverage choice provides a great training tool for staff to learn more about the products they sell.
According to a consumer reports survey, cleanliness issues were the most common complaint restaurant goers had. This includes coming across dirty utensils, sticky bar tops, dirty plates not being cleared. But it also goes beyond the cleanliness of the table.
The biggest complaint from women was dirty bathrooms. Men had a high rate of complaints about dirty water closets, too. The bathroom of a restaurant can be treacherous place if it’s forgotten by support staff who are focused on the diners at tables. Talk about killing an appetite. It’s very important for a restaurant to keep up standards and scheduled cleanings for bathrooms.
Another area that can build up dirt and grime is server stations. Many times, these stations can be used as drop sites for dirty dishes and glassware. A dirty server station can be a bad visual for guests if the stations are within sight. Servers should be mindful to keep their stations clean, and to be bring all dirty cutlery to the back.
Keep your support staff motivated to keep the entire restaurant clean, not just the tables.
This goes back to communication. But this is between the restaurant and its staff. All good restaurants know the value of a pre-shift meeting. This meeting should take place daily before service begins. This is the time to go over any changes, news, or information staff should know for that day. Whether that is the specials for the night, or to inform them that the pork belly is 86’d, it’s best to gather all the staff together at once and let them know so they can properly inform their guests.
This fits into the mantra of setting yourself up for success. Service staff should be aware of all changes in service before approaching a table.
For more Uncorkd restaurant tips, read How To Keep Stellar Restaurant Staff.
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