It only takes one bad meal experience to turn a customer away from your restaurant for life. And, with most customers having preconceived expectations about a restaurant before they visit, it’s even more essential to provide an excellent dining experience for all of your restaurant visitors.
It is the shared responsibility of all staff members, including waiting staff, managers, and restaurant owners, to ensure that your customers experience the wow factor. First impressions of your restaurant can have a big impact – the overall look, if done right, will have your customers salivating before they’ve even sat down! So, to make sure your restaurant offers the best customer experience and stands out from your competitors, we’ve highlighted our top five steps to improving your restaurant’s customer service so that your diners keep coming back.
Create the right ambience
From the moment they step through the door, the way your restaurant looks will set the diner’s expectations as to the type of meal they can expect. To ensure your customers are comfortable and relaxed throughout their dining experience, it’s essential to have up-to-date, stylish furniture. There’s nothing worse than wobbling around on an uneven chair or having to wedge a bunch of napkins under the table to keep it balanced!
The type of restaurant you’re running will depend on the type of furniture you go for: fast-food restaurants, for example, often have chairs that are just shy of comfortable, thus encouraging fast turnover. However, fine dining establishments have more comfortable, soft furnishings to keep customers ordering from the menu.
There’s much research into the psychology of how the spacing within restaurants contributes to how your customers feel during their dining experience. Again, this will differ between various establishments: usually, a fine dining restaurant will have around 20 square feet per person and a fast food establishment will have 10. Overcrowding could lead to your customers feeling uncomfortable and, therefore, cause an unpleasant experience.
The overall look and feel of your restaurant can have a huge impact on your customer experience. Having fresh, clean and high-quality furniture will not only give a great first impression but will also create a great environment for your diners.
Lighting is also a very important aspect of creating a great dining space for your customers. As Le Corbusier says, “light creates ambience and feel of a place, as well as the expression of a structure”. It can, in fact, affect behaviour too, which is particularly useful to pay attention to when it comes to building the perfect experience. For example, people prefer to face illuminated walls, plus, lighting can actually affect the positioning of the body. So, to create a comfortable space, lighting is a big one to get right.
Train your employees: encourage customer interaction
Good customer service requires effective organisation and detailed training for all employees so that standards are consistently met. Ongoing training for employees is the responsibility of the restaurant owner to ensure the continual development of customer service. For example, proper dining etiquettes must be maintained in all establishments and you should ensure all waiting staff:
Clear away plates when finished
Serve and clear food from the diner’s left-hand side
Pour and refill drinks from the diner’s right-hand side
Promptly get the bill upon request
Carry out table checks to ensure each diner is happy with their food
It’s also important for the waitstaff to build a good rapport with the customers. Simply smiling at customers and greeting them promptly will make a big difference, but engaging with them and starting a conversation will make an even better impression.
Have alternative menus
Most restaurants offer vegetarian options for those who don’t eat meat, but with the vegan diet expected to rise by 327% by 2020, many restaurants are now accommodating for this, too. For example, popular Italian restaurants Pizza Express and Zizzi have introduced separate vegan menus, offering choices for starters, mains and desserts.
With organisations such as Veganuary inspiring many to switch up their diets, being able to go the extra mile and offer alternatives will put you a step ahead of restaurants who do not.
Provide free WiFi
Okay, so this isn’t a necessity, but it’s definitely a nice-to-have. Offering free WiFi will not only keep the kids happy, but it may also encourage people to visit your restaurant to work. These days, it seems you can get a connection everywhere – even in clothes shops!
Installing WiFi in your restaurant will also give you the opportunity to collect data about your customers; in order to access the free WiFi, it’s common for establishments to ask their customers for an email address. With their consent, you can then add them to your mailing list – an excellent marketing opportunity for you, and a great way for your customers to stay up-to-date with your latest news and offers.
All in all, your customers should always be put at the heart of everything you do. Offering an excellent service will increase the likelihood that you’ll get repeat customers and great reviews – and once the word spreads that your restaurant is the best around, business will boom!
Keeping your diners happy is ongoing, but when you get it right, you’ll reap the rewards. A great place to start is by redecorating your space – this will provide a fresh new slate for your business, plus, it’ll give you the opportunity to market a re-launch. At Eclipse Furniture, we have a wide range of high-quality, stylish furniture in a broad collection of styles. Whether you have a fine dining or casual dining establishment, you can find furniture to suit a range of different venues. So, if you’d like to transform your space and exceed customer expectations, browse our restaurant furniture today.