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Managing Customer Expectations in a Restaurant

Posted Date:
Mar, 2021
Posted By: Josh Robbins
Categories: General
You’ve heard the phrase: “the customer is always right”, but as any restaurant staff can tell you, a customer’s needs don’t always speak to what is going on in the kitchen. Every customer comes to a restaurant with basic expectations: they expect good, communicative service, and they want to be served their food in a timely manner. As a restaurant, that is all you can expect from customers – they might be on a date, they might be eating out with their family, or they might be going out with their friends. First and foremost, they’re looking to have a good time. So when a kitchen gets backed up, or their server doesn’t get to their table right away, they grow frustrated. Customers aren’t interested in excuses, although your kitchen probably has plenty of them. The internet may have gone out, your phone lines might be down, or you simply may be dealing with a large influx of customers. Managing customer expectations starts with communication with diners visiting the restaurant, and there’s no better way to do this than looking at your restaurant phones. How do I manage customer expectations in a restaurant? Read on and learn more about managing your communication with diners in restaurants, and ensuring their experience is perfect.

If The Customer is Always Right, am I in the Wrong?

We can all agree that there are extenuating circumstances where a customer cannot remain in the restaurant, such as a diner trying to start a physical altercation. But customers are the basic unit of revenue for your restaurant – even a customer you don’t like has to be treated with the same respect and dignity that you treat anyone else with. Their opinions shape online reviews, which directly impact visits to your restaurant. Happy customers start with solid communication – this needs to begin from the moment they sit down, or even from the moment that they call into your restaurant.

Setting Expectations

If kitchens are backed up, or a particular food item takes longer than others to make, customers should be informed of this right away. Even better, being able to inform customers about how busy you are from a phone call can help give them a reasonable expectation about your service. The best restaurant phone systems can do this even when people in your kitchen are too busy to pick up the phone. Basic automated messaging features can instruct customers with directions, hours of business, and even how to order food off of a digital menu through SMS text messaging features. These messages can be customized to give your customers a perfect understanding of when you are most busy, what wait times are currently looking like, and if reservations can be made.

Being Clear About What is Going On

As soon as a customer sits down, they might expect to be served bread, given a drink list, or informed of the specials. Like this, they should also be informed of any delays or special events that are going on that might be disrupting service, such as a wedding party that has taken up a back room. Likewise, if there is a delay in the kitchen, customers will be much happier if they are given full transparency rather than having to guess about when their food will arrive. It is small moments like these that make restaurants lose customers – alternatively, giving customers full clarity can build trust in your restaurant and win the loyalty of diners.

The Power of De-escalation

Working in a restaurant is a stressful job – there’s no telling what might happen throughout a shift. Sometimes when a customer’s needs are not being met, they can get angry. It happens. The best approach to this is to try and understand where they are coming from with their frustration. You obviously cannot control what is going on in the life of a customer – unlike Ratatouille, a meal rarely changes a person’s outlook on life. What you can do is take control of the situation. If a customer is expressing anger, try to understand what is frustrating them. If they’ve been waiting for too long and are extremely hungry, provide them with something to sate their hunger, or even a coupon for their next visit. You can turn an angry customer into a happy one with honesty.

Setting Expectations With Restaurant Phone Systems

Communicate, communicate, communicate. An unhappy customer’s frustration generally stems from not knowing what is going on, and restaurant phone systems can mitigate this frustration well in advance by letting them know about bottlenecks in your service. At SimpleVoIP, we have created a phone system for restaurants that is specifically designed around the needs and issues that restaurants face. With over 40 features specific to the industry, it is an all-in-one tool that minimizes customer frustrations. Contact us today to learn more about our services.
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