The top five customer service factors to consider in the restaurant industry

There is a common saying in the restaurant industry which states that people come for the food but will come back again for the service. People dine out because they pay a premium for the experience, they want to be looked after and not have to worry whilst they are with you. We have put together a list of the most important things to consider, how to fix them and ensure you make the best impression on your customers.

  1. The exterior of your restaurant The impression customers get when they walk past your restaurant is so important because it can make or break their decision to dine with you. You must consider: are your window’s clean, is your menu visible, is your lighting good, is your sign clean with no signs of deterioration. Making sure the outside of your restaurant is neat and tidy is paramount to a healthy footfall through your doors. Oplift checklists can ensure that the operations mentioned above are adhered to on a regular basis. By creating daily lists you can check off operations which need to be done to ensure your store always looks its best e.g. Water plants and sweep any stray leaves from them, or clean windows and polish window seals.
  2. Arrival and seating As the saying goes, you can’t recreate a first impression. Upon arrival, do your staff immediately acknowledge new customers, and are they greeted with a positive and welcoming attitude? Are they rushed to their seat? Are they apologised to if the wait is very long? In order to combat this you should write a set of guidelines, which could include: what to do if the wait is over 10 minutes, or phrases to include when the customer arrives such as ‘Good evening, how many of you would like to dine with us tonight?’ or ‘Hello welcome to X, how can we help you this afternoon?’ this ensures that your customers always receive a warm welcome. If you give staff options for different possible words, phrases and tone of voice to use, it leverages confidence because they know how they should be serving the customers whilst giving them a sense of direction, instead of guessing how they should act.
  3. The waiter/waitress – Your server is the person who your customers have the most interaction with, therefore it is important that you are continually training and educating them on your business’s best practice. In the hospitality industry it is important to live by the motto ‘hire for attitude and train for skill’ a positive, friendly attitude goes a long way with customers. When watching your waiter/waitress see if they smile, are they attentive? Do they use phrases like ‘you’re welcome’ ‘not a problem’? Is their appearance clean and tidy? To make sure all service is optimal across your business, it is essential to do employee reviews regularly, because good service is only the best when it is consistent.
  4. When things don’t go to plan – Customers know that things don’t go as planned all of the time, but it is how you handle them which makes all of the difference. Do you give them a money-off coupon for their next visit, or re-make their meal if it is not satisfactory? You must act fast to ensure the time that they are stressed or angry is minimal. It is essential that you have plans and policies in place on how to handle things when operations go wrong. Oplift’s acknowledgment features would come in handy for these policies, as you can see who has read what, and if they haven’t you can prompt them to re-read.
  5. The bill – When a customer asks for the bill they’ve already made up their mind that they want to leave the restaurant, so don’t make them wait around. It is important to check: how long do they have to wait before they are acknowledged? What is the wait time between asking and actually being able to pay? Do they have to go up to the kiosk to pay or does the pay process come to their table? Oplift’s POS system removes the need for bulky sales counters, meaning the whole payment transaction can be done wirelessly, anywhere in the restaurant.

The restaurant industry is a particularly competitive market so it is vital that you stay ahead of the competition by paying attention to small details which customers will remember when they visit your restaurant. To find out how you can exceed expectations read our guide to Michelin star service.

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 4th October 2017