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If you think that the boss of your business is you, the restaurateur, then think again. It is, in fact, the customer. Ajmal Mushtaq looks at how your restaurant should reinforce this
I am amazed at how so many restaurants that I visit fail to embrace the fact that “the customer” is the most important person in the business. The headline question of this article may be striking, but once you adopt this mindset, your definition of “the customer” will be totally transformed. Without customers, you don’t have a business and your staff don’t have jobs. As the owner of Mushtaqs restaurant in Scotland, I have ensured that every member of my team embrace the fact that I am not the boss, but their true boss is the customer.
As a business expert, I have delivered multi-million-pound projects for some of the UK’s biggest companies and now I have implemented the same practices at Mushtaqs restaurant and have seen some incredible results. In this edition of Tandoori, I explain the steps taken to ensure that the Mushtaqs customer experience is razor sharp. Here are some examples from the Mushtaqs Customer Journey Training, and this demonstrates how we add value to the customer experience at every stage. Individually, these points may not seem important, but collectively they are a powerful customer service tool.
Meet, Greet and Seat
The host is the first person that the customer sees so first impressions are crucial. It is important that the customer is given a warm welcome by an experienced member of the team. Prior to the customer walking in, the host knows the best tables available without looking around. This allows the customers to be taken swiftly to their seats instead of the host looking round and seeing which tables are available.
Seating and Menus
Mushtaqs is a modern Indian restaurant and we have recognised that eating habits have changed over the past few years and so have the expectations of the modern customer. We don’t pull out chairs for the ladies – this is deemed to be old fashioned and does not work in a modern restaurant. Also, the menus are simply placed on the side of the table and this gives the customer time to adjust and have a look at the menu when they are ready. Gone are the days when the menus were thrust into the faces of each person on the table.
Taking an Order
It is important to have detailed product knowledge. At Mushtaqs, we ensure that the order takers know the menu, know how to make suggestions by the process of elimination. For example: ask the customer if they like mild, medium, spicy, smooth sauce, dry sauce, etc, etc. It is important to ask specific questions to help the customer make the best decision. Finally, it is vital that your order taker has excellent allergy awareness such as gluten, nut, dairy, lactose and so on.
Bringing the Food to the Table
The service waiter knows exactly where to place the food as the order taker has initialled ‘L’ (lady) and ‘M’(man) against the main courses. This ensures slick placement of the food and the waiter does not need to arrive at the table and ask who is having which dish. This small gesture is very effective and is used when placing the drinks order on the table too.
Clearing Plates from the Table
It is important that the table is cleared when all customers are finished and not as they are finishing, as I have experienced in so many restaurants. The table must also be cleared in one go. All excess items such as cutlery, crockery, glasses and dirty napkins are removed from the table before the customer is asked for desserts.
Use the Customer’s Name
When taking the customer's payment, a simple glance at the name on the card is all it takes to find out the customers name. The customer is then addressed by his surname. For example, “Please can you enter your PIN number, Mr Smith.” This is another small point that shows the customer that you have gone that little extra distance to make their experience as positive as possible.
Customer service is now more important than ever. You have the opportunity to differentiate your restaurant from the competition. A few small gestures can add up to a lot of value for your customers. This is why is it more important than ever to ensure you really work on enhancing the experience at every customer interaction point.