5 Ways To Make Your Restaurant Customers Happier

make your restaurant customers happier

Your customers expect quality in every part of your restaurant.

Walt Disney had a great outlook on his customers. He said, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”

This statement applies to the restaurant industry as well. You want to make your customers so happy with your food, your ambiance and your staff that they return over and over again bringing new friends with them each time.

Sounds easy, right? For many restaurants, making customers consistently happy is a difficult proposition. In this article, we’re going to discuss five ways to make your restaurant customers happier.

Way #1: Increase the Friendliness of Your Staff

If you aren’t concentrating on customer service and providing ongoing training to your entire staff, it’s time to make this a priority. We drive this point home with the results from one study that says 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service.

The same study also found this statement true: 86% of consumers will pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience.

Those are pretty serious statistics – ones worth paying great attention to. It’s even been said that customer service is more important than the quality of your restaurant’s food.

Does great customer service begin and end with your wait staff? No. It begins the minute customers walk into your door through the minute they exit that same door.

You’ll make your customers happier when your staff is extra-friendly and willing to go the extra mile. Friendly staff is happy staff. They are employees who are satisfied with their jobs and content in their work environment. Happy, well-trained staff translates to happy customers. (tweet this)

Additionally, train your staff in customer service techniques. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Teach your staff to speak with respect and courtesy using respectful titles – think sir and ma ‘m or miss.
  • Staff should smile and be friendly.
  • Encourage your staff to keep their own personal conversations to the back room areas.
  • Help them with their conversation and listening skills. A good listener is a skillful waiter.
  • Let them know it’s ok to go the extra mile.
  • Even in quick service restaurants, your customers appreciate etiquette and respect. Teach your staff how to properly set and clear dishes. Teach them to speak to all diners with the same kind tone.
  • Encourage your wait staff to be patient with diners. Guests should never be rushed off because the waiter wants to turn the table.

Your staff can make or break your restaurant. Conduct regular staff training and encourage the highest level of service. Your staff’s customer service skills reflect your bottom line.

Way #2: Reward Your Customers

Earn loyal customers with a customer loyalty program. You’ll make your customers happier when you give them something back. A loyalty program is a great way to encourage repeat business and word of mouth referrals.

For example, frozen-yogurt restaurant, Pinkberry, offers loyal customers a Pink Card. With this card, customers get a free yogurt after every tenth purchase and on their birthday.

Another example comes from California Pizza Kitchen. Their program, aptly named Pizza Dough, gives loyal diners $5 in pizza dough for every $100 they spend. This can be used to offset their next bill. They also provide a gift upon membership, a free birthday pizza and other rewards throughout the year.

Yet another idea hails from Panera Bread Company. They dispense with traditional rewards and offer instead a surprise. On occasion, diners find a surprise waiting for them on their rewards card in the form of on-the-house drinks, pastries, and bowls of soup or salads.

Not ready to offer a loyalty program? There are other ways to reward your customers and help them leave happier:

  • Surprise frequent diners with a free appetizer or dessert. If you’re the owner or chef, bring this free gift out yourself and visit for a few minutes.
  • Hand out promo items such as pens, paper and mugs/cups.

The name of the game here is the surprise. Diners are always happier when pleasantly surprised.

Way #3: Turn a Bad Experience Around

Customer disputes are bad for business when they aren’t handled quickly and efficiently. When your diners have problems, they’ll leave happier if you solved their problem with an acceptable solution.

Make sure your staff is trained how to handle customer disputes. If someone at one of their tables has a problem such as slow-to-arrive food, undercooked meat or a cold steak, wait staff should handle the problem quickly and efficiently.

Respect goes a long way in issues with customers. Put in the effort, and you might find they leave happier.

When problems with food or service arise, not only fix the problem, but offer something free. This can be in the form of an immediately free meal or a gift certificate to come back.

When you give them a free round of drinks or a dessert, you’ll initially incur the cost, but you’ll find it’s repaid when they return the next time and the time after that.

happy customers

Happy customers increase your revenue and your restaurant’s profitability.

Way #4: Surprise Them with Something New

Shake it up a little bit. Once a month, surprise diners by picking a random customer or table to receive free dessert, free drinks or a free dinner.

This not only surprises customers but encourages them to return on the off-chance you’ll decide tonight is surprise night.

Using technology such as iBeacon, recognize your customers by name when they enter the restaurant. In today’s busy, digital world, your customers are often craving personal relationships.

Bring in some entertainment. Pick a local band or ethnic dancers to perform. Do this once a month or once a quarter. Diners won’t know, but they’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Way #5: Make a Connection

When you or one of your employees makes a connection with diners, they are happier. (tweet this) Greet your frequent diners by name. Don’t know their name? Encourage employees to introduce themselves and learn customers’ names. Then, they can personally great them the next time they return.

Consider Cliff and Norm from Cheers – “where everybody knows your name.” Many of your customers are happier dining in a place where everyone knows their name and looks forward to seeing them when they come in to eat.

How about thanking them when they leave with sincerity. As they leave ask if there was anything you could have done to make their evening more enjoyable. Listen and respond with respect.

As millennials take center stage, they demand this sort of connection. They want to feel appreciated and acknowledged. Taking care to provide that connection not only makes your customers happier, but it boosts your sales.

The Take-Away

When you make your restaurant customers happier, you’ll increase your revenue and your restaurant’s profitability.

According to a study by Harvard Business School on Starbucks the satisfaction of a customer has a massive impact on revenue. How?

It’s always easier and less expensive to make a customer happy than to spend money recruiting new diners. When your staff goes the extra mile, greets customers personally and treats them with respect, you’ve earned a customer for life.

You’ve not only earned a loyal customer, but you’ve earned one that will do you marketing for you – for free! Think word of mouth referrals, social media shout-outs and online reviews.

How have you gone the extra mile to make your customers happier? We’d love to hear your tips below!

Images: US Army Africa and Derek K. Miller

 

 

 

 

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