6 Ways to Improve the Customer Experience at Your Restaurant
Good food and a spectacular ambiance are essential for any restaurant, but nothing compares to customer satisfaction.
You could offer a menu of innovative dishes and have the town tout you as the perfect date-night eatery, but if service and customer experience lag, you’ll be lucky if your establishment survives the first year.
Restaurants must deliver a fun and memorable outing for patrons to retain their loyalty and hopefully gain new customers. Essentially, customer service can make or break your restaurant’s success.
If you’re wondering how to improve the customer experience at your restaurant, these six tips may be an excellent place to start.
1. Focus on Employee Satisfaction
Kindness goes a long way when trying to retain and grow your customer base. A recent survey shows 96% of respondents say they’ll leave over poor service. Naturally, your customers will feel it if your employees express workplace dissatisfaction.
Creating an immaculate dining experience begins with investing in your staff. After all, happiness is infectious — you can rest assured a satisfied employee means a happy guest and a more positive atmosphere.
The restaurant industry has endured a lot over the last two years. As of April 2022, 6.4% of restaurants and bars were still well below pre-pandemic employment levels. Former restaurant workers have shared their reluctance to return to the industry, citing low wages, volatile customers, understaffing and safety concerns as their top reasons.
As a restaurant owner, you should find ways to boost morale. When you offer better training, higher wages, paid time off, health benefits and other incentives to your employees, they will be far more willing to exceed customers’ expectations.
2. Set Up an Online Ordering and Delivery System
A 2019 Vixxo Restaurant Survey showed 62% of Americans preferred dining out instead of eating at home. Of course, as pandemic lockdowns reshaped the industry in 2020, online ordering and delivery for at-home meals became the norm.
While restaurants have since welcomed patrons back in droves, the restaurant delivery market has drastically evolved. It’s increased 7%-8% annually since COVID-19 lockdowns — more than double the 3%-4% per year before the pandemic.
Consider integrating an online ordering system suitable for your establishment. If anything, setting up a way for guests to make a reservation online is also sure to improve customer convenience.
3. Redecorate Your Eatery
Sometimes updating your dining room decor impacts how well-received your restaurant is. If your restaurant has been around for a long time, it may need some sprucing up.
Rearrange the layout, upgrade the lighting, swap out the floors and reupholster the booth seating. Your establishment may also need a fresh coat of paint or a brand new color palette to enhance the space.
However, pay attention to indoor air quality, as customers are now more cautious about their health than ever before. Certain paints and even candles emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — toxic air pollutants hazardous to your respiratory health. Studies have shown VOC levels are up to five times higher indoors than outdoors, so reducing exposure is critical.
Your customers will appreciate your attentiveness to their well-being and efforts to create a safe, clean restaurant environment.
4. Aim to Earn Positive Reviews Online
A positive guest experience may lead to positive online reviews if you play your cards right. A recent study showed 83.2% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase.
Adopting an online platform for your restaurant has the potential to increase revenue. However, you need to provide exemplary service to reap the rewards.
Make recommendations for pairings and master the art of upselling without sounding too presumptuous and customers may never forget how your went above and beyond for them. Remembering regular customers’ names helps make your establishment feel like a second home — and they’ll be more inclined to give you five stars.
Of course, occasional negative reviews can happen, but demonstrating excellent customer service online is just as important. Offer your thanks for the feedback and ensure you reply professionally. You should also apologize for their negative experience and offer to speak with them further to resolve the issue.
Even if their low score impacts your ratings, your public display of apology is noticeable to other customers.
5. Update Your Menu
Occasionally optimizing your menu ensures you’re always offering your customers’ favorite entrees. Purchasing a point-of-sale system will help streamline this process, allowing you to track each item on your menu to uncover the hottest sellers. This also gives you a leg up in ordering essential ingredients before ever running out.
Unpopular items are usually a waste of inventory and money. Replace those offerings with other dishes aligning with your establishment you believe your customers might enjoy more.
Your restaurant should also adapt to today’s most common dietary restrictions. Perhaps include a few gluten-free entrees or a plant-based option — Asian-inspired tofu dishes have 34 grams of protein — for vegetarians.
6. Establish a Loyalty Program
One of the easiest ways to improve customer experience at your restaurant is by starting a loyalty program with a point system and gift cards.
Regular customers will appreciate 10% off their meal or a complimentary beverage, while others might want to purchase a gift card for a friend or family member. Engaging with them can give you better insight into their spending habits and preferences, allowing you to develop the best loyalty program for your business.
Loyalty programs encourage customers to visit again and refer people to your establishment. In the end, an occasional discount can lead to more significant revenue with customer growth.
Enhanced Dining Experiences Matter for Customer Satisfaction
Your restaurant’s success depends on how happy your customers are. Therefore, improving the customer experience at your restaurant is most important. Mastering top customer service should be a priority before anything else, so implement your new strategies one at a time for the best results.
Author Bio: Oscar Collins is the managing editor at Modded, where he writes about food, fitness and more. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates of his work.
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