Treat your staff well to encourage better customer service.
While many restaurant owners and employees think the quality of their restaurant stands on the menu alone, it’s important to note that a recent study shows your customer service is of equal importance to your food.
Researchers noted that the rate of repeat customers increased from 20% to more than 80% when customer satisfaction rates were higher.
What’s more, when customers were happy with their service, they were four times as likely to recommend the restaurant.
Because customer service is vital to your success, let’s look at eight habits that can improve your customer service.
Habit #1: Set the Tone
Your leaders, and that means you, too, set the tone for customer service in your restaurant. (tweet this) So, if it’s not a priority for your managers, then odds are, it won’t be a priority for your staff.
Consider your managers the leaders on the battlefield. It’s up to them to create a culture of customer service in your restaurant.
Make sure that your managers are properly trained in customer service and help them make a commitment to fostering it in your restaurant.
Send your managers to a customer-service training boot camp. That way, they can provide ongoing training for your greeters and wait staff. When a new employee comes on board, have a plan in place that provides customer service orientation.
When it comes to your managers, they are only a good fit if their ideas of customer service gel with yours. Once they’re up to speed on your expectations in regards to customer service, check in with them on an ongoing basis to make sure they’re carrying out your customer service guidelines.
Habit #2: Give Your Staff the Proper Tools
As sometimes happens in the restaurant industry, it’s the busy season, and you need more staff. So, you hire warm bodies with little to no service experience.
You can’t expect your staff to know how to provide excellent customer service if they’ve never been taught.
In order for your employees to provide great service, they have to have the right tools.
This starts with customer service training. If you need to close for one day to provide it, you can bet it’s worth it in the long run.
Other things that can hurt your staff’s ability to provide excellent service include:
- Inconsistent kitchen — dishes come out late, are under or overcooked
- Lack of enough utensils, including silverware, plates, glasses
- Running out of the daily special
- Unclean facilities
When your staff doesn’t have the tools they need to provide great service, they are often compelled to cut corners and make excuses (or lie) to your guests.
Finally, if your staff isn’t afforded the basic tools to provide customer service, they have to work too hard to make up for inconsistencies. Give them a break by making sure they have all the tools they need to do a professional, caring job.
Habit #3: Deal with Complaints
How you deal with negativity and complaints from customers is a cornerstone of your customer service plan. (tweet this)
Not only do you want to reply to complaints immediately, but you want to do so with empathy and understanding.
You might find unhappy customers in your restaurant. They may email or call on the phone.
There’s another potentially detrimental place negativity can show up: the Internet, and this includes social media and review sites.
Use this as the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Address the problem head on and do what you can to appease the customer. Reviews live on in cyberspace forever, so your response can affect your future profits.
Habit #4: Teach Service
How do you teach great service? It happens on a daily basis. You grow employees with daily mentoring.
Eliciting great customer service won’t happen overnight. Pick an area to focus on each week. Then repeat it later in the year.
Teaching customer service involves nurturing your staff on an ongoing basis.
Remember the old adage, “It takes 21 days to create a habit.” Don’t forget it’s easy to let it go, too.
Service staff perform better when their arsenal of tools is fully stocked.
Habit #5: Hire Well
Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s a good idea to hire people with a heart for hospitality.
Some people are natural caretakers, and your restaurant is a good fit for these people. While they might not have a lot of restaurant experience, if they have the ability to be kind, passionate, committed and generous, those natural skills are invaluable.
Habit #6: Treat Your Employees Well
Happy employees provide better customer service.
If you treat your employees well, and they clearly know what’s expected of them, they will be better committed to your restaurant.
This is another way to nurture a culture of hospitality and customer service. You treat your staff well, and in turn, they’ll treat your customers well.
Lead with kindness, and they’ll be prompted to do the same.
Habit #7: Reward Your Staff
Reward your staff when they do a good job and provide great customer service.
A salary and a good tip aren’t enough. Consider a monthly reward program for your staff. It can be tied to performance or sales goals.
You can offer monetary rewards, gifts or paid time off.
In addition, be quick with the compliments. If a staff member is doing something right, tell them.
Habit #8: Tour Your Own Restaurant
As a restaurant owner, you have your own job to attend to, but it’s important to walk-thru your restaurant during slow and busy times — unannounced.
Make time to do every week. When you walk the floor of your restaurant, you have the perfect opportunity to see your customer service in action. You can then gauge how it’s working.
In addition, make time once a month, or even more often, if time allows to show your staff how it’s done.
Don an apron, roll up your sleeves and pick up a pitcher for drink refills. Set the example for your staff and show them what you expect when it comes to customer service.
As an added bonus, your guests will certainly appreciate the personal attention they are getting from the owner.
A study by Thanx finds that 70% of restaurant customers never come back to a restaurant. With a multitude of restaurant options available, you want to set that statistic on end. How?
You can increase your retention rates by improving your customer service with the eight habits listed here.
Your restaurant has two main goals:
- Serve great food.
- Provide excellent customer service.
You’ve probably got the great food part down. Now it’s time to focus on the customer service. Spend time charting a course for improvement. Talk with your staff and provide ongoing training.
Make a concerted effort to respond to all customer reviews, online and in your restaurant, and both positive and negative.
Let your customers know you care. Make a long-term plan for improving your customer service on a daily basis and watch your churn rates drop and your profits rise.
What are your restaurant’s customer service habits? Have you found a way to increase customer loyalty by improving the service you provide? Share your comments below — we’d love to hear them.