Setting yourself apart from the competition is a continual competitive battle that plays out nightly on the dining room floor. Before the customer approaches the host stand or the table they have already been tempted to visit your property. They are either regular customers, have heard about the establishment from a friend or some other advertising venue, or are just trying it for the first time. Whatever the case, each visit will leave a sweet or sour impression on the customer.
Food however has become secondary in many markets across the country. We all know that the American palate has been trained and molded to accept culinary mediocrity and many restaurants have managed to remain open with food that sustains its market presence due to big portions and heaping presentation. Perfecting customer service is the tool that leaves a lasting impression on customers today and sets winners apart from losers in the culinary game.
Last Saturday I walked into one of the five Starbucks I frequent daily. It’s my first stop, in
On this particular Saturday we were informed that the crew at Starbucks needed our picture. They flashed it with a Polaroid and by Monday we had been chosen as customers of the week. We were both presented with Starbuck cards and our drink choices were posted on a board by the drink pick up counter. That’s Starbucks’ way of adding customer appreciation and customer service to their daily routine. And it works. The company has become a customer service icon.
Service- above average service- is what is lacking in most operations today. Here are ten tips on how to keep your customer coming back because you make their visit more enjoyable than the guy offering inconsistent service down the street.
1). Get to know your customers by name.
2). Greet them with a smile when you see them walk in the door. Nothing I worse than a manager or waiter who projects the problems they are having with the kitchen.
3). Let the waiters know that they can ask if anyone needs anything even if it isn’t in their section. Nothing is worse than asking a waiter for something and the response is “I will get your waiter.” If the customer wanted to wait, they would have.
4). Don’t be so frugal it puts you out of business. On occasion buy a dessert or a drink for a customer. It will pay off in the long run.
5). Don’t ever, under any circumstances turn away a regular. I am not speaking about a “local”- one who lives in the area but never comes in. I am speaking about a customer who frequents your restaurant when they want to eat and enjoy themselves.
6). Be flexible with special requests. The words no substitutions on the bottom of a menu are annoying and foolish, they drive customers away.
7). Periodically, have a neighborhood night and invite your loyal locals.
8). Remember birthdays, anniversaries, and how little Buffy is doing at school.
9). Keep in mind that one thing that makes someone a celebrity – in your restaurant- is the fact they are there.
10). Customer service is quickly becoming the main ingredient for a successful restaurant. Let your staff know that.