In this world of fast food restaurants and online ordering, many restaurant-goers miss the personal attention that an individual waiter or manager can provide them in a sit-down eatery. However, with these five basic tips on improving the guest’ experience, you can ensure that each customer at your restaurant feels valued and appreciated.
1. Connect with the guest
Train your staff to understand the value of connecting with their guests, even on busy weekend nights when the restaurant is packed and servers are trying to cover all their ground efficiently.
Encourage waiters to introduce themselves to their party and ask about any special occasion at that table. If they find out there is a birthday at a certain table, develop a policy to gather at least three different staff members to sing a birthday song for the guest. Such individual attention always manages to make groups feel special and valued as customers.
2. Act the part
As a manager, it may be tempting sometimes to stay behind the scenes, ensuring the quality control of your establishment. However, what separates a good restaurant from a great restaurant is the attitude that a great restaurant boasts.
Making your rounds on the floor speaks of more than just your attention to each guest. By introducing yourself to parties, asking them for their feedback, developing a rapport, you imply that you are so confident in the running of your restaurant that you do not even need to be scrambling behind the scenes. This allows guests to feel more comfortable in their experience and associate the memory with a feeling of ease and convenience, encouraging them to come back again next time.
3. Treat them
Now and then, make it a habit of treating a guest on special occasions. If a young man contacts the restaurant ahead of time about a proposal he is planning, offer the couple a free bottle of your finest champagne, on the house. Not only with the couple have a fond memory of their engagement location, developing customer loyalty, but surrounding guests may also come to associate your restaurant with the place to be for monumental life events.
If you recognize a party that has come to your establishment regularly over the years, show that you notice them and appreciate their loyalty by offering them a free appetizer or free dessert. You don’t need to go to extreme lengths to show your appreciation. Just a little something extra does a lot.
4. Be receptive
Another way to make guests feel like they are appreciated at your restaurant is to offer ways for them to provide their feedback. You could personally go to a few tables each night and ask them about their experience and how you can improve it. You could also make a habit of leaving “Comment Cards” at each table when delivering the receipt. This encourages them to jot down a few thoughts in that buffer zone between paying for their meal and receiving their credit card or guest check back.
You could also establish a loyalty program, in which repeat guests join as members and receive discounts, special promotions, or invitations to member-specific events. These programs allow members to feel as acknowledged as loyal customers and as if they are receiving as much from you as they are giving to you.
5. Get on social media
While some restaurants are beginning to realize the importance of social media, this avenue remains a largely untapped resource in improving the guest experience. By creating a social media account, you can ensure that the guest experience does not end at your door.
Some platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter, allow you to continue receiving customer feedback from home. This public forum means that other viewers can also see the positive reviews you receive from pleased customers. If you see a negative comment or tweet, make sure to reply promptly to it, expressing your regret at their unsatisfactory experience and providing a potential solution, such as “we invite you to come back this Friday and receive half off your total meal from us.” This shows your audience that you care about what they think.
Be diverse in your posts. Include special promotions and dates, no doubt. But also try to highlight important events for your establishment, popular reviews from the media, behind-the-scenes photos, and even a photo of a monumental event that occurred at your restaurant (with the party’s permission of course!)
The bottom line is making your guests feel like they are an important part of your restaurant leaves them with a pleasant memory of your establishment. Through improving their experience with these five basic methods, you can develop a strong sense of customer loyalty for years to come!