Nine Commandments of Good Customer Service
Hello again — let’s start this week off simply with a nice list, adapted from materials provided by Food Service Warehouse, of nine rules to keep in mind concerning good customer service.
1. Hire the Right Employees
Consider the old saying “hire for attitude and train for skill.” Put out an accurate job description when you’re hiring — responsibilities, tasks, anything else you’re looking for — and when you interview potential new employees, pay attention to who seems the most genuinely enthusiastic and professional.
2. Don’t Skimp on Good Training
Once you have new employees, don’t treat training as a foregone conclusion. If you want your employees to be excited about their work, training them in an exciting and interactive way is but the first step of creating such an atmosphere for your restaurant.
3. Foster an Environment of Respect
In a successful restaurant setting, everyone treats everyone else with respect — management to kitchen to wait staff to customers. Ritz-Carlton hotels use this motto: “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Though your joint may (or may not) be a more relaxed atmosphere, the egalitarian center of the saying should hold true anywhere. It’s the golden rule: treat others how you’d like to be treated.
Managers, start each day with a daily lineup. Share assignments and instructions for the day, but be sure to ask for questions, comments, and feedback from every corner of your staff. Communication’s a two-way street.
5. Make Your Employees Feel Valued
It’s a weird thing about human nature that we tend to work to the level that’s expected of us. Employees who don’t feel valued are less likely to put forth their best effort for employers, so make sure to let your staff know — individually and in groups — how much their hard work and good attitudes mean to your restaurant. As this extends to customers, make sure your staff relays how valued they, the customers, by everyone at your restaurant, too.
6. Treat Your Customers Like Royalty (So to Speak)
There are a few things you can do on the human side of things to help ensure your customer’s feel valued: treat every guest like a restaurant critic (don’t forget, they could all go on Yelp.com!) or celebrity customer; keep section sizes small so your wait staff can be attentive; keep beverages topped off and plates clear; offer servers a way to make up for any errors (i.e. a free drink for a customer who has to wait for an improperly cooked steak, etc.); and, of course, accommodate guests with food allergies and dietary restrictions.
7. Deliver the Promises of Your Restaurant
I’ve blogged about this before, but here’s the short version. Consumers expect different things from different sort of restaurants; make sure those who come in get what’s advertised, whether it’s burritos the size of your head, elegant formal dining, or a fast casual experience. Let them get what they came for.
8. Be Aware of Your Staff’s Impact on Your Customers
Every instance of communication with customers has the ability to color their experience positively or negatively. If your server tells them “shoot, you just missed happy hour” and proceeds to take their drink order, they’re likely to be disappointed. What you say to them has impact on how their whole meal goes, even if it seems unrelated. In this situation, consider your alternatives: offer the guests who just missed a first round at the happy hour discount, then full priced drinks for the rest of their evening. Make them feel valued by getting a deal they might not even have been aware of!
9. Work on Timing
One of a server’s jobs is to pace a meal correctly so the diner’s experience is most pleasurable. Don’t start the evening on waiter-autopilot, of course; engage with each and every customer like they’re the only ones. Make sure to pace the meal well after that, too, in terms of taking orders and bringing things out over the course of the evening. Timing how plates come and go, and how often you check up on the table, is the difference between seeming negligent and too eager, something that’s important to work on.
Hopefully this list is of some value to you — if anyone wants more detail on a specific rule, please leave a comment below and I’ll write an individual post about it. Otherwise, see you Wednesday. Contact us here with any questions.