I was recently on my way back from Los Angeles with my family when we decided to stop at a restaurant before making the second half of the journey. We stopped at a higher-end casual dining restaurant and had an interesting experience. It can be very obvious when you walk into a restaurant where a great customer experience is top of mind vs a restaurant where it is not – this day was no exception. Ensuring customers are happy is crucial because with a tap on a screen they can communicate their dissatisfaction to hundreds or even thousands of people. There are specific things that restaurant-goers expect, and here are my top five.
A Friendly Greeting
“Send out a cheerful, positive greeting, and most of the time you will get back a cheerful, positive greeting.”
Make sure you’re greeting customers quickly and positively because first impressions are powerful. If you invite guests into your home you wouldn’t let them walk in and not say hello or offer them something to drink. It’s the natural human condition to subconsciously expect a greeting. It breaks the ice and welcomes the customer. Do you know which restaurants are greeting customers better than others? How about which restaurants are greeting customers quickly or not at all?
The most notable restaurant visit in my life was when I went to a southern restaurant in Los Angeles where my colleagues and I each received a handshake and a hug when we walked into the door from the host who was genuinely interested to say hello and talk to us. I’m not suggesting hugs be added to your standard operating procedures; however, that event left quite an impression on me. The benefit of greeting customers quickly goes a long way and the feeling a person has when they know you’re happy they arrive is priceless. It’s a simple act when you think about it but often goes overlooked.
“When I look out at the people and they look at me and they're smiling, then I know that I'm loved. That is the time when I have no worries, no problems.”
I’ve never met anyone that looked awkward when they smile. Except maybe in this picture. A smile alone doesn’t guarantee an excellent customer experience, but an excellent customer experience almost always starts with a smile.. They’re contagious. You’ve probably heard that before but it’s not some kitschy phrase, they’re actually contagious. A study in Sweden found that people had trouble frowning when looking at someone who was smiling.
Most importantly, smiles are the universal sign of happiness and communicate your state of mind. In hospitality, it can influence people’s perception of the brand and their customer satisfaction. And while looking at the above picture makes me laugh for different reasons, there’s a surplus of positive energy that’s built up when someone smiles at you.
Anticipate Their Needs
In order for a brand to be truly successful, it has to know how to anticipate need.
Trained and Knowledgeable Employees
"What I Hear, I Forget. What I See, I Remember. What I Do, I Understand."
We’ve all been been impacted by an employee who has not been properly trained. Whether it’s slow service, an incorrectly made dish, or dirty dishes that continue to sit at your table – poor service is often the result of untrained employees who make mistakes and are stressed out. In the fast-paced workplace of the food service industry, training ensures that employees are empowered to perform their jobs effectively and your customers keep coming back. Training can also increase productivity, decrease liability and improve employee morale.
To execute an effective training program, we know that "seeing" always trumps "hearing." It’s always helpful to show staff members the proper way to carry out a task remembering that 65% of your audience learns visually. It is equally important to show staff members the incorrect way to do something as well. By showing the incorrect way to do something, you’re saying “You can do this task many ways except for this way.” This can be a powerful piece of training for your employees that help them think outside the box, understand what it is you want done, and help anticipate customers' needs. The positive results of effective training can be seen not only in the increased productivity and effectiveness of your employees but also in the minds of your customers as they leave.
Consistency is the true foundation of trust.
-Roy T. Bennett
|Customers want consistency because they want to always know what to expect. Studies have found that a consistent customer experience will increase customer satisfaction, build trust and boost loyalty. Once you have have trained your employees on policies and procedures, it is important that their performance is monitored to ensure a consistency is delivered to the customer. One of the most effective ways is with your own eyes. Watching an employee perform a task will tell you much more about the employee’s performance than just about any batch of data. An increasingly popular way is by remote monitoring using high definition video cameras. The result...customers who will line up at your door just to get a taste of the world you’ve created for them.|