Blog Post / October 30, 2020 / Best Practices

7 Ways to Serve Up an Unforgettable Restaurant Customer Service Experience

by Mikayla Walzog
Mikayla Walzog

Hospitality is defined as “the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers,” according to Oxford Languages. While receiving and entertaining guests is the basis of hospitality, today’s restaurants have to go above and beyond to stand out among the competition.

Why? Consumers expect more from hospitality encounters. In fact, 24% of American diners wouldn’t come back to a restaurant if they didn’t have a memorable dining experience. These days, a lackluster restaurant experience is the same as a bad restaurant experience. Fortunately, technology can help make the difference between a memorable and forgettable meal.

Here are seven restaurant customer service tips to implement to keep customers coming back, including:

Put these restaurant service tips into practice to make your restaurant stand out.

Restaurant customer service tip #1: Customize the restaurant customer experience

Did you know that 51% of diners say that an employee remembering them from a previous visit would make their dining experience stand out? Making guests feel like more than just another customer is critical in today's era of hospitality.

While historically, maîtres d'hôtel (or maîtres d for short) would have memorized the names and preferences of every guest, technology is now available to help make that knowledge available to the entire restaurant staff. Today, restaurant CRMs with guest profiles make it easy to learn customer preferences and share them with staff.

For example, if you’ve noted a shellfish allergy on a guest’s profile, your staff can point out items that are safe for that guest to consume as soon as they are seated. This personalized attention to detail wows customers and keeps them coming back.

Restaurant service tip #2: Make regulars feel appreciated

Speaking of customers who come back: customer loyalty is of utmost importance to the hospitality industry Why? Regulars account for a third of restaurant revenue. Improving customer loyalty by just 5% can increase profits by an impressive 75-95%.

Having access to guest data makes it easy to treat your regulars like VIPs. As you learn about your guests, you can store information on their profiles. You can use this data to identify them as regulars and then do things that will surprise and delight them.

For example, you can let regulars know you appreciate them by giving them a treat, like a  complimentary dessert or glass of bubbly, on the house. Go above and beyond by offering them a favorite item that you’ve seen them order in the past, like a specific wine or dessert.

Restaurant customer service tip #3: Anticipate needs

An excellent way to create a memorable restaurant customer experience is to anticipate guests' needs. However, this doesn’t mean hovering around the table constantly.

Instead, it means making recommendations based on dietary preferences or bringing out booster seats for children, all before being asked.

Having access to guest data makes this level of service scalable. When you use a restaurant CRM with guest profiles, you don't have to rely on one person to remember all the details about a guest. Instead, your entire staff can be aware of who is in the restaurant or coming to the restaurant at any given time and be prepared to customize the experience to meet guests’ needs.

Restaurant customer service tip #4: The customer is always right

How you handle criticism can turn a bad restaurant experience into a good one. A mistake handled in the right way will keep customers coming back, while a poorly handled mistake will make customers run for the hills and tell others to stay away.

The rule of thumb is to treat the customer as though they are always right. Don’t take criticisms personally. Instead, use guest complaints as opportunities to provide outstanding service.

Restaurant customer service tip #5: Ask for feedback

Yelp reviews are the bane of a restaurateur's existence. There are usually two types of Yelp reviews: ones from delighted customers, and ones from angry customers. While feedback from online reviews is useful, you also need to hear feedback from customers who fall between those two extremes.

Instead of waiting for customers to write online reviews when they are very pleased or very displeased, why not solicit their feedback? Find a reservations platform that automates feedback by sending guests a restaurant customer experience survey after their visit. Guests who may be too shy to share feedback in person, or who don’t want to post something publicly on the internet, can anonymously give you insight into a typical meal at your restaurant.

Restaurant service tip #6: Implement a mystery dining program

Partner with a mystery dining program for an in-depth look at your customer service experience.

How does mystery dining work? Your restaurant hires a company that specializes in mystery dining. That company hires and trains people to dine at your restaurant and secretly observe your staff. Mystery diners answer detailed surveys about service at your restaurant. They remark on things like how long they waited to receive entrees or how your bartenders handle cash transactions.

Finally, your restaurant receives access to these surveys and the mystery dining company’s analysis of the feedback.

Restaurant customer service tip #7: Make changes based on customer feedback

There’s no point in collecting customer feedback if you don’t use it. Look for patterns in feedback you’ve collected through online reviews, email surveys, and mystery dining reports. Then, make changes based on this feedback.

When you have a system that aggregates all this data in one place, you can identify trends and make changes. For example, if several guests issue complaints that a certain employee is rude, you can bring this problem to the employee’s attention and improve his hospitality skills. Or if a dessert special always gets praised, you can add it to your regular menu.

Implement feedback to avoid bad restaurant experiences and keep customers coming back.

The bottom line: Knowing what your customers want is the key to an outstanding restaurant customer service experience

When you understand your customers’ needs, preferences, and desires, you can give them a dining experience that they won’t forget. Execute these restaurant service tips to deliver guests the service they crave.

Learn how the SevenRooms restaurant CRM can help you provide your customers with memorable experiences. Book a demo today.

About the Author

Mikayla Walzog

Mikayla Walzog writes about the intersection of technology and hospitality for SevenRooms. Her passion includes all things food & beverage and chipping away at her ever-growing bucket list of new restaurants to try.

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