When you work in hospitality your #1 priority is the customer. No matter how creative your menu, no matter how innovative your interior design – if your staff don’t provide customers with a wonderful experience, business will suffer.
There are many ways to improve customer service and we have previously spoken with some hospitality superstars to get their insight into what makes a great server. But it’s also the little things that can make a big difference in the way customers perceive your venue and how they rate their experience.
We’ve compiled a list of the little things that customers value that might sometimes get forgotten in the everyday chaos of keeping a hospitality venue running smoothly.
Have a Good Time
Nailing the essential Dos and Don'ts of service is fundamental to the success of the business. But one aspect of service that doesn’t get as much attention is the value customers place on seeing that you enjoy your job.
You can be a stellar server who never misses a beat and never drops a plate, but if you would rather be doing something else, it will show and it will impact how customers feel when you’re looking after them.
Customers appreciate a server who is not only attentive and professional but passionate about what they do. If your attitude and body language show that you genuinely care about ensuring customers have a good experience, they will be more forgiving when things don’t go according to plan, and they will have a better time overall. If you are enjoying where you are and having fun in your role, the atmosphere you create with that positive attitude will be felt and appreciated by your customers.
Just make sure you’re enjoying yourself within professional boundaries – it’s fantastic to see someone having fun while at work, but the job always needs to come first. The worst thing a server can do is neglect customers because they’re too busy chatting with coworkers, or having a laugh with one group while forgetting that the rest of their tables need attention as well.
But sometimes no matter how well you perform, how much you love your job, bad days can happen. Just remember that a customer doesn’t know what you’re dealing with in that moment. The only thing they will notice is you not performing to their expectations.
If you’re having one of these days, have a chat with your manager and fellow team members. Let them know what’s going on and what kind of help you need from them to turn the situation around.
Appreciate Your Regulars
The other day I walked into the cafe down the road from work and was greeted by name and with familiar banter. I laughed as I said, “I see you guys more than I see my friends.” Hospitality businesses can become like second homes to customers. They might pop in three times a day to grab a takeaway coffee, have lunch there daily, or trust that it’s a good place to hold a business meeting.
Treating all customers with warmth, professionalism and genuine interest in helping them have a good time is fundamental. But establishing a special relationship with regulars is that little something extra that makes you stand out from the the business down the street. Just because someone comes into your venue regularly doesn’t mean they’ll keep doing it forever if they don’t feel valued as a customer.
Remember the names of your regulars. If they consistently order the same thing, remember that too. Ask them about their day and about the event they mentioned going to a few days prior. Give them a coffee or a cookie on the house every now and then – that $3 you’ve given away isn’t going to impact your revenue as much as losing that customer and the people they bring in with them.
Pay Attention To Detail
Paying attention to detail in your customer service and the upkeep of your venue is super important.
Sometimes it’s the smallest thing that makes the difference between a customer having a great time or an average (or even bad) experience. You should always be anticipating the needs of your customers – this will show you’re dedicated to ensuring they’re enjoying themselves, and that you’re damn good at your job!
Little things like replenishing table water, bringing out an ashtray and offering a water bowl for a dog can make a huge difference to a customer's experience.
Similarly, paying attention the little tidbits around your venue that can easily be neglected can make a big difference to how a customer perceives your venue and how they feel while they’re visiting.
Keep your eye out for stains on walls, doors, windows and furniture. Keep any flowers in the venue fresh and regularly check if any of your tables and chairs have rickety legs.
You might not easily notice these kinds of details while you’re busy running around, but customers sure will – so it’s important you remember to check on such things!
Honesty is the Best Policy
Be honest and upfront with your customers. The truth is always appreciated and helps build better relationships with customers and a better reputation for your business.
If there is a long wait time on food or drinks, don’t sugarcoat it. If a customer decides they’d rather come back another day, it’s probably a better outcome than a customer angrily waiting for the meal you said wouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes.
Similarly, be honest about any limitations your venue may have – is the venue child friendly, do you have vegan or gluten free options, is there a good non-alcoholic drink selection?
Customers will have some key factors that determine whether they have a good time or a completely ruined night, and honesty about what you can provide is the key to ensuring the customer knows your venue is the right pick for them.
Increase Your Internet Visibility
Many people will find your venue through a Google search or decide if they want to visit you after a quick look through your social media accounts.
It’s important to have a strong Internet presence that is not only a good representation of your brand but also provides potential customers with all the information they need to know about you – where you are, when you’re open, if you’ll be closing for any public holidays, if your venue is accessible and child-friendly, if you offer takeaways – all the important details that might determine if your venue is a good pick for them.
It’s always a good idea to have a copy of your menu available online as well. That way people can get psyched about coming to visit as well as figure out if they can eat anything at your venue if they’re on a restricted diet. Contact third parties such as Zomato and TripAdvisor to ensure they’ve got all your details listed correctly and an updated version of your menu uploaded.
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