Using Great Customer Service to Boost Your Summer Business
If you think about all the great and memorable experiences you have had at a restaurant in the past year, you will most likely not be thinking of the place that offered the best tasting food or best prices, but probably the place where you received the best service. Isn’t this even more true when you are on holiday and eating out virtually every day? Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, has seven tips on using great customer service this summer to make short stay “regulars” to your restaurant out of summer visitors and tourists.
Greet Your Customers Within 30 Seconds
Whether your customers are calling your operation or walking through the door, always answer the phone or greet them within 30 seconds. Even if you are completely swamped, take the few seconds to say hello and let them know that you will be with them shortly. There is nothing worse than ignoring potential or existing customers. Your customers need to know that you or your staff are aware that they are in your operation, and that you will be taking care of them as soon as you can.
Providing great service is much more important than fast service, so learning to be patient is a huge key to offering good customer service. Summer visitors may not have as much familiarity with Canadian customs and even language and so may need extra patience and attention on your part. Take the time that your customer needs to allow him/her to be comfortable in your operation, get all the information he/she needs to make a decision, and have an enjoyable and memorable experience.
Pay Attention to What Your Customers Are Saying
Whether your customers are paying you a compliment or making a complaint, it is critical for you to always listen to your customers. With all the distractions of cell phones, TVs and other handheld devices, it is very refreshing to give someone your undivided attention.
Never Tell Customers That They Are Wrong
No matter what the situation, never tell your customers that they are wrong. Instead, quickly offer a solution that will make it right. Even if your customer was the one at fault, you do not want to point fingers or make him/her feel embarrassed. The main priority is to sort out the problem and continue to ensure that your customers have an enjoyable experience in your operation.
There’s No such Word as “Can’t”
You should never tell a customer that you can’t oblige a request. If would be best to tell them that you will try your best to give them what they want. If the request truly is unreasonable (for example, the request violates health or sanitary laws), be sure to clearly explain to your customer why you are unable to grant his/her request, and offer to make something that is close to what he/she wants.
Work as a Team
If a customer asks you for something, never tell them that it is not your job. Every member of your front of house staff should be trained to do each other’s jobs so that every staff member is able to handle a customer’s request in a polite and efficient manner. For example, your service staff should work together as a team to ensure customer satisfaction, and not solely look after their own tables or section with no regard for any of the other customers in the dining room.
Never Say “I Don’t Know”
If a customer has a question to which you do not know the answer, never reply with “I don’t know.” Instead, tell your customers that they have asked you a great question, and you will check it out immediately. This way, you have not only complimented your customer for asking a good question, but you have allowed yourself the opportunity to get the answer.
Take Immediate Action With Unsatisfied Customers
If one of your customers has expressed dissatisfaction with something, act on it immediately. Never make a customer have to repeat his/her problem. If a team member is sending a manager or owner over to the table to deal with an issue, they should be fully briefed on the issue before arriving at the table and be approaching the customer with a solution.
There’s Always Room for Improvement
Never be satisfied with the level of customer service that you provide. There is always room for improvement. Be sure to train and retrain your staff on a regular basis. Be in constant communication with your customers to see how you can improve your business every day.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She is recognized as the industry leader in providing innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com