What Your Body Language Is Telling Your Customers
You and your waitstaff communicate subtly to your diners through your body language before you even open your mouths to say hello.
Body language is non-verbal language, and it speaks volumes.
In this article, we look at what your body language is telling your customers. Taking stock of how you and your staff portray yourselves through body language to your customers is key to earning loyal, repeat business.
Eye Contact is the First Key
The first thing to train your team is the importance of eye contact. This is the absolute basic of body language. (tweet this)
As a member of your team (or you) greets a customer, they want to look the customer in the eye. They also want to stand up straight and show the customer with this position that they are glad the customer has come to dine.
Your wait staff should make initial eye contact and hold it throughout their conversation and each time they go to the diners’ table.
Holding eye contact also helps your guests really understand what you are saying verbally.
Do train your staff in the finer points of eye contact. It’s not staring at the customer. It’s looking diners in the eye, continuing to blink and nodding during the conversation.
The most important take-away here is that you maintain eye contact to show you are interested and actively listening.
Smiles Show Caring
Next, you and your staff want to maintain an air of positivity. You can do this through your smile.
A smile is instantly warm and inviting.
Smiles show interest, excitement, empathy, and positivity. The key to the smile is making sure that it’s genuine.
As an after effect, if your staff works hard at maintaining eye contact and smiling, they’ll find they enjoy their job more. (tweet this)
A genuine smile signals approachability which is a great thing in the services industry. Why is this important?
It’s important because in the restaurant industry, customers are at the mercy of their wait staff who is their partner in the dining experience.
So, train your staff to smile often and genuinely to signal they are approachable and trustworthy.
If your guests are met with smiles from every staff member they encounter, they’re going to feel happy and welcome during their time in your restaurant.
Finally, make sure your hosts also smile when customers enter and again when they leave your restaurant.
Patience is Integral
A staff member in a hurry carries over to your diners.
If your hostess greets customers in a hurry and rushes them to the table, your guests are not going to feel welcome in your restaurant.
When your waitstaff takes a long time to greet your guests and then hurries the introduction, your diners will feel like they have to hurry and can’t enjoy a leisurely dinner.
So, train your staff to show patience during their shift whether it’s slow or extremely busy.
In addition, after your diners’ food has been delivered, have your servers wait about three or four minutes before checking back in. This gives guests time to settle in and try their food.
If the server goes back too soon, your guests might not have had a chance to eat, and the server’s quick reappearance signals he/she wants the diners to leave soon.
For the rest of the meal, your servers want to walk by the table several times and make eye contact. This makes it easy for your diners to ask servers for something they need.
Casually Bring the Bill
Body language is quite important when your server deliverers the bill.
Why? First, it may mean the difference between a good tip and a bad one. Second, it’s another chance to make your guests feel good about their experience at your restaurant.
When delivering the bill, train your servers to gently lay the bill on the table. If they’ve been paying attention, they should know who the “head” of the table is.
It’s integral to train them how to say goodbye as well. You don’t want your guests to feel hurried, but you may need to turn a table. Here are two scenarios:
- If you need to turn the table, have your server smile, make eye contact, and tell the guests thank you for coming and that they hope to see them again soon.
- Yet, if you don’t need to turn the table, encourage your server to make eye contact, smile and invite the diners to linger.
Now that you know what body language is telling your customers, we encourage you to train your staff to recognize body language in your diners as well.
Here are some tips for helping your front of house staff read body language so they can try to maintain an air of positivity.
- Listen to your customers’ body language – it offers a wealth of information.
- Crossed arms mean your guests aren’t happy – try to be upbeat and change their feelings.
- Fidgeting means they’re impatient – make sure you get them what they need before they even know it.
- Constantly looking at their watch signals they’re in a hurry. Meet their needs and offer to ask the chef to hurry their meal.
- A couple seems very in love – this is a good time for the upsell and offer a decadent dessert.
- Dressed up diners who are eating early most likely have another event planned – offer them quicker service.
- Patrons who are chatty probably aren’t in a hurry and may even be in the mood for appetizers, drinks, and dessert.
- Diners who say their food is “ok” probably aren’t happy – clue in to this and see what you can do to help.
Mastering the art of body language, both using it to provide excellent customer service and reading it to decipher your customers’ feelings, can propel your restaurant to the next level.
It’s all part of proving excellent customer service and an even better customer experience. This builds a loyal clientele for your restaurant that comes back again and again, bringing new friends each time.
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