Friday, August 24, 2012

Customer Service in the Food and Restaurant Industry

Customer service goes a long way
Restaurant Industry
In a tough economy, people are thinking twice about whether to eat out or cook at home. Don't let bad customer service be the reason they decide on the latter. Customer service provides a quick and lasting impression of your business, and in a competitive industry like the food and restaurant business, first impressions can be everything. Give your customers a reason to stay loyal to your business by providing excellent customer service in addition to excellent cuisine.
Why is good customer service so important?
Customer retention is one of the biggest goals for any company, and quality customer service is an easy and effective way to achieve this goal. According to the Institute of Food Technologists, a nonprofit scientific society whose members work in food science and technology, a customer will tell five to seven other people when they experience an unpleasant incident. Poor customer service can result in not only losing the customer who experienced it forever, but it can also deter potential customers from considering your restaurant the next time they are craving a double cheeseburger.
Tips for creating a positive customer experience
Customers know that their business is vital to your success, and they also know that they have the power to take it elsewhere if they do not receive the service they deserve. Fortunately, it's the little things that make a customer feel their visit was worthwhile. A genuine greeting and a smile when they walk in is a good start. The appearance of both the store and employees should be neat and clean. For regular customers, try to remember their names and orders if they always get the same thing. You can even use customer service as a means to increase your profit. Politely offer to up-sale a meal, or offer a suggestion to complement an entrée, such as a bottle of wine.
What if the damage has already been done?
If you have a customer who is unsatisfied, do not get frustrated. Exercise patience, listen to their problem, and apologize for any mistakes on your part. If there was a relatively small mistake, offer a discount off their meal. For larger mistakes, consider giving them their meal at no charge. In addition, a good way to convince a customer to come back after a bad experience is to offer them a free or discounted meal on their next visit.
Encouraging employees to comply
Because your employees have the most contact with the customer, it is important to have a clear set of expectations for customer satisfaction, and make sure every employee is aware of it. A rewards program or bonus program can help to boost employee enthusiasm. Consider throwing a staff party if a month passes without any customer complaints. Likewise, if a customer compliments one of your employees for providing an exceptional experience, see that they receive some sort of bonus or recognition.
Service your way to success
Restaurant Industry
Providing excellent customer service has always been an important ingredient for success, especially in the food and restaurant business. Eating out has become more of an unnecessary luxury than it was considered even a few years ago, so it is more important than ever to let your customers know that you appreciate their business. Provide your customers with exemplary customer service to keep them coming back for seconds.
Linda Hansen has over six years of journalism experience and currently markets promotional products at Absorbent, Ink -- the promotional products people.

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