Providing exceptional service and a top-notch customer experience is essential to the success of your restaurant. ReviewTrackers' textual analysis of more than 331,920 online reviews of 1,300 restaurant locations revealed that "service" was the most frequently mentioned keyword. On the other hand, according to New Voice Media, 51% of customers will never do business with a company again after a negative interaction.
In the competitive restaurant market, with its rapid growth and intense competition, customer satisfaction should be a top priority for all businesses, restaurants, and service providers in general. A negative review can significantly affect a business, as very few customers read comments and reviews before visiting a restaurant.
To provide your customers with the ideal customer experience, you should pay undivided attention to the entire customer journey, from when you find or acquire a customer until the moment they leave your business, and the critical step is whether they will return or not. Therefore, customer relationship management is a must if you want to provide an exceptional customer experience and cultivate customer loyalty.
But how can a restaurant exceed customer expectations and gain loyal customers? By reading the five practical strategies mentioned above.
5 Strategies to Achieve Customer Satisfaction Throughout the Entire Customer Journey
1. Outstanding Customer Service
It is of the utmost importance to provide an exceptional customer experience, beginning long before the customers arrive at the restaurant and continuing even after they leave. The entire workforce should be dedicated to making customer satisfaction the core of the business.
From the moment prospective customers first encounter our restaurant online—via our website or social media—until they make a reservation by phone or online and leave our establishment, we are committed to operating a seamless and enjoyable experience. Our overarching objective is to create a seamless and indelible experience from start to finish, thereby increasing overall customer satisfaction.
A satisfied customer is not merely one who shares their positive experience on social media or leaves glowing reviews on platforms such as Google Reviews. It is a customer who becomes loyal to the restaurant and advocates for it enthusiastically, recommending it to their friends.
In contrast, bad customer service can have the opposite effect, damaging the reputation and discouraging repeat business. So, outstanding customer service should be our highest priority to cultivate and retain loyal customers by exceeding their expectations.
Continuous and permanent training in both hard and soft skills is required for the restaurant shifts. The soft skills required for communication and contact with customers should be paramount for a restaurant to have customer experience management.
All employees ensure customer satisfaction, including those who interact with customers (such as waiters, cashiers, etc.) and those who do not but are responsible for the services (such as chefs, bartenders, etc.). Therefore, everyone should receive equal training in all areas of soft skills, as every staff member should be considered a customer support team member.
2. Personalized Dining Experiences
Customers want to feel valued and important. Especially if they are loyal to a restaurant, they want to feel that the staff knows their preferences, what they like to order, etc. According to OpenTable, 65% of loyal customers want restaurants to remember their names and 50% want restaurants to remember their preferred beverages. Thus, they want to feel valued and that they are unique, despite the volume of customers.
You can accomplish this by implementing customer loyalty programs as it may be challenging to record individual data for each customer (what they order most frequently, what they prefer, etc.).
In these programs, you will create the profiles of your customers and automatically receive their points, the dishes they order the most, etc. so that you will have a comprehensive understanding of their preferences and provide superior customer service. Thus, you can create a personalized experience, offer customizable menus, and determine their preferences, ensuring consistency and enhancing customer satisfaction.
3. High-Quality Food and Presentation
Even if we have excellent customer service and a compelling loyalty program with points and other perks, we should still provide high-quality food and an elegant and flawless presentation to delight our customers.
Flavor and presentation are the two fundamental pillars of our entire operation. Unquestionably, the exquisite flavor of our food is the primary reason clients return to our establishment. Even the most gracious and attentive service may not convince them to return if the food does not meet their expectations.
Therefore, food presentation is a diner's first impression upon receiving their dish. A flawless presentation not only satisfies the senses but also increases our visibility in our customers' social media, thereby stimulating organic advertising and promotion. Customers have high expectations of service. Based on these elements, we build long-lasting relationships with our valued customers.
4. Seamless Technology Integration
Since technology can streamline the dining experience for customers and meet their numerous needs, it can also play a vital role in the growth and success of your restaurant. Therefore, modern restaurants should implement various technological solutions to attract and retain satisfied customers.
An example of using such tools would be creating a sleek and professionally designed website for the restaurant, complete with current menu items and other relevant information. In addition, offering digital menus with a QR code can save the day, as well as the option to order online or via mobile device, which may not attract new diners but could result in repeat customers who prefer to eat at home. The online customer may also be a loyal customer requiring individualized service.
Booking a table online is also essential, allowing customers to reserve a spot at the restaurant quickly and easily. In the meantime, it can be incorporated as a website feature.
Furthermore, Blend improves customer service by motivating employees to perform at their highest level. This is achieved by clearly delineating daily tasks and ensuring employees are fully aware of their responsibilities. Additionally, Blend offers advanced shift scheduling capabilities, guaranteeing that the restaurant is adequately staffed to provide optimal service. Moreover, it incorporates leave management functionality, guaranteeing appropriate staff members are available to serve customers.
5. Gathering and Acting on Customer Feedback
Developing profitable customer relationships requires continuous customer comprehension and enhancement. How can this be executed? Good customer service can only be achieved by analyzing positive and negative reviews and striving daily to improve the restaurant and staff.
After each meal, allow customers to complete a brief survey via QR code or tablet. This survey allows respondents to provide feedback on their dining experience, including food impressions, concerns, interactions with your service staff, and suggestions for future improvements. This direct feedback loop enables you to identify potential pain points and make substantial improvements based on the invaluable input of your esteemed customers.
You should also pay close attention to online reviews on platforms such as Google, TripAdvisor, and social media. In addition to reading the comments beneath your posts, we also consider reading the private customer messages to find suggestions for enhancing the user experience. This comprehensive approach to customer feedback ensures that you continually strive to provide the best dining experience possible.
The vital role of customer experience cannot be underestimated in the restaurant industry's competitive market since it is the primary factor distinguishing exceptional restaurants from the rest. Therefore, it is time to adopt those 5 strategies mentioned above to create an atmosphere where diners are delighted.
A dedication to excellence that results in customers returning, high ratings, and long-term success, means to put the customer experience first. We recommend that you adapt these practices to your restaurant's brand and clientele and put them into practice. In a business where repeat customers are priceless, your restaurant's success hinges on your dedication to perfecting the dining experience.