Customer Service

Posted on Analysis May 2008 - by Tandoori Magazine
Customer Service

Your customers are an essential part of the restaurant mix, so how should you treat them? Tandoori finds out.

Your restaurant business has important components that make or break your establishment, namely your food and ambience. But no matter how good those two parts of the puzzle are, your business is nothing without customers and once you’ve got them, you must ensure that they keep coming back for more.

Only, the service you give them and how you handle them will make all the difference.

Think if it this way: if you went to a restaurant, how would you like to be treated? So put yourself in the customer’s shoes and proceed with a manner which is friendly, charming, helpful, courteous and ever receptive to their needs. Even if they complain, you should pay attention and never make the situation worse by going on the defensive. It’s because of your customers that you get to pay the bills, pay the wages, sustain the restaurant and earn your living.

Of course, not everyone has the skill to be friendly and charming, specially when you are in a highly pressurised environment like a restaurant, particularly during the hectic service time. But don’t forget: you are in the hospitality trade so catering for other people’s needs with a smile is all important and make sure your staff know this too. If they don’t, train them.

They are after all, your sales people on the floor and not only do they have to sell the food and drink with conviction, they often have to explain to your customers what the dishes are and do it well. So training and staff incentives must not be forgotten.

Research shows that some of the things that customers deem most important about the restaurant they are visiting include menu selection, food quality, menu pricing, how quickly they are served, the friendliness and professionalism of the person serving, the menu knowledge of the server, the décor and the overall experience of dining there.

Notice that amongst those points, service comes up at least three times. Get that wrong and it will be a major turn off for customers.

Treat each and every customer as though they are your regulars. Remember, first impressions count and the moment customers walk in, they want to be looked after well and be given a soothing and almost seductive experience to which they can’t wait to return to.

Show them to their table or bar with warmth and courtesy. Ask them what they would like to drink and ensure that the drink gets them promptly. Leave them with the menu for a few minutes so that they can digest the information with ease. If they have any questions or queries be as helpful as you can and ensure that you know answer. If you don’t, use phrases like “I’ll find out for your, sir”.

Taking the order should strike a fine balance between what they what to order and recommending what you think they should have – whether that’s a chef’s special, perhaps a more luxurious item or even a matching wine. This is all where the server’s knowledge will be key.

After the order has been taken and prepared, make sure that it’s delivered to the table in good time so that there is no cause for customers to complain. If there is any undue waiting time, make sure you inform them and even go so far as offering them a complimentary drink for the waiting time.

Throughout service and the period the customers are there, don’t keep going up to the table and asking if everything is okay. Give it a good space if time before you ask them if they require anything, but by the same token, keep an eye on the table so that your server is there at a moment’s notice. Should anything ever go wrong and the server has not been able to satisfy the customer’s complaint, a senior manager must be on hand to handle things properly.

Because there is nothing worse for your business than a dissatisfied customer!

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