Why a Customer Service Strategy Is Important in a Restaurant

Attracting new customers is important to every business owner. While there are many marketing strategies to get customers in the door, it is just as important to create customer service strategies that keep them coming back.

The restaurant industry has very low retention rates, estimated at only 55 percent. With the impact a dissatisfied consumer can have on your bottom line, it is important to create a customer service strategy that sets your restaurant apart from the competition.

Why prioritize the customer experience?

  • Customer retention costs less than customer acquisition.
  • Repeat customers tend to spend more than new customers.
  • Satisfied customers are more likely to generate positive feedback and referral business. 

Each restaurant establishes its individual customer service standards based on a variety of factors including type of restaurant, type of cuisine, demographics, and location. While there are many variations of service types, operators should outline basic customer service strategies that should be met to create a pleasant customer experience for every patron who enters their establishment. 

Below are nine suggestions to improve a restaurant’s customer retention. 

Deliver Consistent, High-Quality Service

Customers who receive great food and exemplary service are likely to return for that same experience again. Make sure customers are met with a clean environment, consistent recipes, appealing presentation, and excellent customer service every time they visit a restaurant.

Properly Train Staff

It is easy to assume employees understand their role, but they can’t deliver a brand’s desired experience unless expectations on customer engagement, cleanliness, and ticket times are clearly outlined.

Make the Experience Personal

Connecting emotionally with guests is key to increasing a restaurant’s long-term profitability. Patrons appreciate being met with a staff who offers a genuine welcome, uses their name, makes eye contact, and delivers prompt service. Those who go the extra mile by offering a free dessert on a customer's birthday or giving a flower to each table on Valentine’s Day can ensure that an establishment stands out and is remembered for a patron’s next big occasion.

Increase Manager Engagement

Manager engagement can be a huge part of customer satisfaction. Customers will remember how they felt while in a restaurant, so make sure a manager visits each table and makes them feel welcome. It may take a moment out of a busy day, but the results of that gesture can be extremely valuable the next time those customers are deciding on where to dine.

Anticipate the Customer’s Needs

Different customers will have different preferences when it comes to their dining experience. Servers can learn to anticipate the customer’s needs based on their body language and facial expressions. For example, a customer who keeps looking around the room and checking their phone for the time is more likely to appreciate a speedy service and frequent check-ins as opposed to a couple entrenched in deep conversation who may feel disrupted by a server’s check-ins.

Solve Issues Quickly

Dealing with unhappy customers can be difficult, but mistakes will be made, and complaints are inevitable. Effectively resolving issues so all parties are satisfied is an essential skill for all managers. Winning over a dissatisfied customer opens an opportunity to display great customer service and can make the customer even more loyal than they were before. 

Offer Menu Recommendations

Menu recommendations are more than just suggestions to drive sales. Making recommendations the right way provides an opportunity to build trust and credibility with patrons while getting to know them on a whole new level, thus building stronger relationships.

Reward Loyal Guests with Special Offers

Incentives and loyalty programs are becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst the millennial crowd. Seventy five percent of consumers say they favor companies that offer rewards. Punch cards, coupons, point systems, and even exclusive products can keep customers coming back. Incentives and loyalty programs are relatively inexpensive in relation to the cost of acquiring new customers through marketing and advertisement.

Ask Happy Customers for Positive Reviews

Customers have a lot of power in this digital world, so don’t be shy to ask for positive online reviews. About 43 percent of customers are likely to leave a review after a positive customer experience, so be sure to ask them to tell others about their great dining experience.

The restaurant industry has a lot of competition. Focusing on key customer service strategies is the best way to set your restaurant apart from the competition and build a loyal customer base.