5 Customer Service “Wins” You Can Start Doing Today For Free
There are a zillion books out there about how to run a business, and perhaps a good amount of them on how to runs a successful restaurant. Every single one of them will tell you that "such-and-such" is the secret to a profitable business or that this trick or skill might help run a better business over here.
[br][clear] Most of them will be right. If you want to run a great restaurant, you have to focus on all sorts of things; obviously the food is where many will say is the main focus because it's the PRODUCT (more on that in a second), then the atmosphere (and all the stuff that comes with it, from lighting to decor to the paint on the wall), to the branding and marketing. It's a ton of stuff you have to get right to be successful.
[br][clear] But the one thing all those books I was talking about will probably agree on is how important the SERVICE is. And while you might think that your "product" is the food that you put down on the plate, what you may be forgetting is that people who go out to eat are actually buying something completely different. The "product" they are purchasing is the "experience" they have while dining at your establishment and it's the service that can really make that shine.
[br][clear] You can have a bad meal at a restaurant but such a good service experience that you'll come back again. Having a great meal but not being able to enjoy it - well, that's a different story.
[br][clear] If you think your service needs a boost, there's no reason to make excuses on why you can't get started today. Here are 5 important things that I have been taught (by some of the BEST in the business) that I have done at every restaurant I've worked, that, while very subtle, have made an impact on the guest experience. They are things every member of your staff needs to learn how to do to ensure every guest feels like a special one.
[br][clear] Answer the Phone With Your Name
[br][clear] The first experience your guest has with your establishment is with that initial phone call. You'll hear many places simply answer the phone with a quick "This is the ____________". Bad move. Always answer the phone "Thank you (or thanks) for calling the ____________, my name is ____________", followed additionally with such possible phrases like "can i help you make a reservation" (this promotes the concept of a reservation to them - perhaps they didn't know they needed to make one or didnt think about it before) or with a simple "how may I help you".
[br][clear] It's the inclusion of your name here that is KEY - its the first step in becoming friendly with the guest. One of the most important aspects of having returning guests is making them feel special, like they are part of a family, and telling them your name is the first step in creating that relationship. More on that to come.
[br][clear] Greet the Guest Immediately
[br][clear] This bothers me so much when i see it happen at a new restaurant that I am either just starting to work at or when I'm having a night out (which doesn't happen often!) - guests arrive at the door and spend what feels like minutes looking around having no idea what the hell they are supposed to do next.
[br][clear] This might be understandable if you are a small place without a hostess and are extremely busy - but even so, if you're that small you should be able to at least make eye contact with the guest and acknowledge that they exist! Sometimes even this is enough to make the guest feel special, just stopping what you are doing for 10 seconds (even if you're taking an order) and using a small hand gesture and eye contact to let them know you'll be right with them.
[br][clear] If you do have a host stand, it's up to you to train them to do their job! They are there to greet the guest and begin their experience. If their table is not ready, the host stand's job is to let the guest know about the bar or other areas where they can wait, to be led to their table, or to answer any other questions. Make sure your guests are greeted almost as soon as they walk through the door!
[br][clear] 30 Second Table Greet Rule
[br][clear] This can be a deal breaker folks - the table greet by your server. I've worked for some really successful restaurant groups and this is hands down one of the most important points of service. Have your servers trained to say hi to their table within 30 seconds of them being seated.
[br][clear] Make sure the server introduces themselves and let's the guest know, if they are busy, that they will be right with them. If you can drop off water or point to some things about the menu they should know about (things for the guests to look over until they return), then even better. The point here is again to address that the guests exist and that someone is taking care of them. This is super important throughout the entire meal - your service can actually be slow, but not bad, so long as the guest know their needs are being addressed. Start the meal off right by a quick and polite greet!
[br][clear] Walk the Guest to the Coat Rack/Restroom/Exit
[br][clear] The whole point of this list is that these things are SIMPLE, little things that you can introduce to your staff that go a long way in the service department. The next time a guest asks you where the restroom is, or where they can hang up their coat, don't just tell them or point - WALK them yourself to the destination. Even if you're busy, it's just a few seconds that really makes the guest feel special and can add so much extra to their experience.
[br][clear] When I was first trained to do this, I thought is was stupid. But as time when on and I continued to do this for guests, I could literally FEEL how great THEY FELT when I would walk a guest to the restroom area or exit. It really does make a difference!
[br][clear] Say Goodbye to The Guest
[br][clear] Finally, my favorite and most important point of interaction - saying good bye. I used to tell my servers that personally saying good bye to each and every guest (including the ones that they did not personally serve) was one of the most important things they could do as a server, and set them up for their next visit. Sometimes it might be an across-the-room wave (harking back to their greet I mentioned earlier) and sometimes it might be the rush out the door to wish them goodbye after they are already outside.
[br][clear] That little gesture might sound silly, but it really does make the guest feel good about themselves, the restaurant, and their experience. Think for a second about the way we all communicate with each other in today's tech-driven world of Facebook and text messages - we're lucky to get a phone call with someone let alone an in-person interaction. The little good-byes at the end of meal with a real smile behind it are more valuable today then probably ever before. Make sure you're making your guest feel valuable and they'll return the favor by coming back for more.
[br][clear] Thanks and have a nice day!