Does Great Customer Service Really Get You Customer Loyalty?

 

Does Great Customer Service Really Get You Customer Loyalty?

Loyal customers spread the news of your great restaurant.

A recent survey that says customer service is more important to people than the quality of the food at your restaurant has us pondering the question, “Does great customer service really get you customer loyalty?”

It appears that for many people the service they receive is indeed the determining factor in whether or not they’ll be back. Consider the Chicago Tribune critic who said, “Good service and mediocre food beats poor service and great food every time.”

In this article, we look at the relationship between great customer service and customer loyalty. We’ve already established that service is often more important than the food, and now let’s look at why.

The Millennial Customer

The driving force in today’s economy is the Millennial customer. This refers to those born between 1980-2000.

Not only are they trendsetters, but their spending power is enormous. They are largely responsible for many of the trends we see today when it concerns customer service and customer loyalty because their needs trickle out to the rest of the world.

Millennials influence the buying decisions of those older and younger than them. This means that your restaurant must meet the demands of the Millennial generation and that means a friendlier, customer-service oriented experience at your restaurant.

You can count your Millennial diners as loyal customers if you treat them the way they expect to be treated.

They are quite likely to become brand ambassadors for your restaurant if they value your customer service.

The Personalized Experience

Think back to the 1990s sitcom, Cheers. It was the place, “Where everyone knew your name.” This is the experience today’s customer wants.

Millennial customers, and those who share their outlook, want an authentic, personalized experience at your restaurant. (tweet this)

They want to dine in a place that feels like home, but they also want a sense of adventure that they can’t actually get at home. You can meet their needs by providing an interesting and delicious menu that is served by courteous, friendly staff members.

Today’s customer wants something memorable, exciting and new when dining out. Provide them with an experience they won’t forget, and again, you’ll have their loyalty.

The Caring Restaurant

Your customer service extends to your values as a brand.

If you want to earn customer loyalty, your customer service must match your restaurant’s values.

For example, if your customers value organic, locally-sourced or sustainably produced food, provide it to them. They’ll see this as an extension of your customer service as it pertains to your community as a whole.

This is just one more nod back to the Millennial generation that makes an effort to frequent businesses that support things they care about.

customer loyalty

Social proof is important to today’s diners.

The Social Arena

When we talk about customer service and your restaurant, you’re probably thinking about the service your customers receive from your wait staff. This is no longer the only area for you to provide exceptional customer service.

Social media is the norm for many people these days, and they often make their purchasing decisions online.

What’s this mean for your restaurant? It means it pays to establish a strong social media network, one where you respond to and engage your customers.

If you receive negative comments, respond promptly and with kindness and empathy. If you receive positive comments, thank your customers.

Today’s consumer decides much of their customer loyalty online. They decide where to dine based on the opinions of others.

So, while your in-restaurant customer service experience is vital, so is your social media customer service. Both can serve to either boost or deplete your customers’ loyalty.

You can bet that Millennials make their purchasing decisions in collaboration with others. They decide where to eat while listening to online chatter.

Building Great Customer Service

You build loyalty for your restaurant by providing consistent, excellent service in your restaurant and online.

Each one of your customer’s interactions with your restaurant is another building block on their road to customer loyalty. (tweet this) If you stumble in any of their experiences with your restaurant, their loyalty is at risk.

The good news is that your customers visit your restaurant thinking they’ll receive good service. All you have to do is provide it to them. Stay true to their expectations, and you’ll build customers for life who are also your brand ambassadors.

Here are a few steps to providing great customer service that really gets you customer loyalty:

  1. Build relationships. This speaks to the personalized experience. Train your staff on an ongoing basis so they know how to build relationships with your customers and provide exceptional service. Hire an astute social media manager who can do the same online.
  2. Provide the experience. Set your restaurant apart from the competition by always going a step above and beyond. Not only should you meet expectations, but you should exceed them every time a customer has an interaction with your restaurant and your staff.
  3. Treat your staff well. Your team is the front-line, and they are the ones responsible for providing great customer service. Treat your team well, and they’ll do the same for you. Happy employees are good employees.
  4. Pay attention to feedback. When your customers talk, it’s your job to listen and respond well. Negative or positive, if your customers take the time to reach out, you should do likewise. Use any negative comments to change things in your restaurant. Negative feedback can be a positive learning experience.

Invest in your restaurant customer service, and you’re investing in customer loyalty. It’s always easier to keep a customer than acquire a new one, so concentrating on customer service boosts your customer loyalty.

Final Thoughts

Peter Drucker, a management guru, once said, “The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.”

This one statement encompasses everything we’ve discussed in this article. If the purpose of your restaurant is to create and keep a customer, then the answer to the question, “Does great customer service really get you customer loyalty?” is a resounding, “Yes!”

We encourage you to rethink your position on customer service. Rewrite your employee handbook. Offer ongoing customer service training. Respond to negative feedback online.

Do everything in your power to offer the absolute best customer service in town. It’s the restaurant that goes above and beyond that will beat the competition every, single time.

After all, what’s the use of a restaurant with good food and no customers to enjoy it?

How have you improved your restaurant customer service? Do you have any tips and tricks for success? We’d love to hear about them. Please share your experiences below.

Images: Roman Arkhipov and Rob Bye

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