Use These 4 Tips to Improve Customer Experiences in Your Restaurant

Matthew Thompson
February 28, 2020
Matthew Thompson is a writer and SEO specialist who enjoys cooking at Flora Kitchenette, a vegan bakery and brunch spot in Louisville, KY.

Whether your restaurant focuses on fine dining or quick meals, improving the customer experience will help your business succeed.

The details of how you improve customer experiences will vary a little from restaurant to restaurant. The basics remain the same, though. Use the following list to learn how you can improve customer experiences. As a result, you’ll gain a loyal following and attract more new customers who want to see what everyone is talking about.

Give All of Your Employees Customer Service Training

Everyone in your restaurant needs customer service training. That includes servers, bussers, and kitchen staff. Yes, even the person who rarely steps out from behind the grill needs customer service training. Does that sound excessive?

Throughout the day, there are always chances for customers to interact with employees. Perhaps someone asks a cook about ingredients while she’s heading to the restroom. Maybe a customer asks the busser what beers you have on tap.

Customer service training doesn’t mean that every staff member can answer every question. It means that every employee knows how to handle requests and questions professionally. It’s perfectly acceptable for the cook to say, “I’m not sure about that. Can I send your server over? She can help better than I can.”

As long as the customer feels cared for, your employee has done an excellent job.

Cross-Train Employees for Flexibility That Improves Customer Experiences

Far too many restaurants break their staff members into front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH) teams.

Cross-training staff offers several benefits that can improve your business operation and customer experience. Some of the most important reasons to cross-train include:

  • Making sure that someone in the restaurant can perform essential tasks, even when an employee calls in sick.
  • Adding BOH members to FOH to serve a sudden spike in customers.
  • Improving food safety standards so your customers don’t get sick from contaminated meals.
  • Retaining talent by giving employees opportunities to advance their careers.

You can’t overestimate the value that you get from a flexible, well-trained staff. Of course, some individuals need specialized training. It takes years to become a skilled baker, so you might only have one or two people who can do that job. When it comes to standard tasks, though, you should cross-train your employees to fill as many roles as possible.

Tell Customers Accurate, Honest Wait Times

Customers don’t expect to get seated immediately when they walk into busy restaurants. They do, however, expect your host to give them accurate, honest wait times. Some people may decide that half an hour is too long. If they leave, you won’t get their business today. If customers get excessively inaccurate times, though, they’ll get angry as they sit waiting for a table to open. They may even walk out and go somewhere else. In this situation, you run the risk of losing customers forever with incorrect times instead of losing them for one meal by giving them accurate wait times.

Predicting accurate wait times isn't easy. An app like OpenTable's GuestCenter can help your host give customers precise wait times. GuestCenter also shows potential customers available tables so they can reserve their spots from home and arrive at the right time to get seated.

You should also consider making long wait times more tolerable by giving customers something to do. Cocktail services in the waiting area will keep them occupied. If you have enough room, you can provide magazines, books, and games. Half an hour can go by in a flash when customers keep their minds occupied.

Make It Easy for Customers to Give You Feedback

It’s nearly impossible to improve customer experiences until you get feedback from people. Humm’s research finds that restaurants get the most helpful feedback when they give customers chances to:

  • Let people avoid confrontation by submitting feedback anonymously rather than through comment cards.
  • Vent frustrations while they’re in the restaurant instead of when they get home and post their reviews online.
  • Give feedback as soon as possible rather than letting emotions diminish after the dining experience.

Humm’s technology makes it possible for restaurants to collect real-time feedback and track trends that lead to better customer service. You may discover new ways to improve customer satisfaction that you’ve never considered.

Reach out to Humm today for a customer survey review that will help you improve your customers’ experiences, attract more people to your restaurant, and build a dedicated group of regulars.