“Customer experience is the new marketing.” –Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes Benz USA
What’s really important these days? Delighting your guests!
Here are 18 proven ways to delight and exceed your guests expectations.
1. Genuinely welcome your guests.
How would you welcome guests into your own home? Train your staff to offer a genuine welcome to your guests, minus any fake scripting.
2. Train your staff to sell each dish.
Make sure your staff have tasted everything on the menu: Make an investment into their food and drink knowledge, and they’ll be able to sell to your customers better.
Teach them to describe the menu items, and which items go together well. Highlight the house-made ingredients, the sourdough bread, the hand cut chips, and the best specials of the day.
3. Train your staff about dietary restrictions and allergies.
Your staff must know the menu inside and out, and they must know what’s vegan, nut free and gluten-free without having to “check with the kitchen.”
Some food allergies can be life threatening. Being certain that a dish doesn’t contain nuts is paramount for a guest with a nut allergy – having to go and ask the kitchen automatically instils doubt in the guest, leading to a less-enjoyable experience.
4. Take care of the kids.
If the kids are happy, so are the parents. Offer a kids pack, or something basic to entertain the little ones, consider plastic cups with lids. By offering these little things to calm down a baby or toddler, the parents will relax into a great experience that much faster.
5. Give a pre-service perk.
If appropriate, offer your guests something delicious right when they sit down, such as a sip of house champagne, a small bowl of olives or some housemade bread. Get them excited about the meal ahead before the server even arrives.
6. Give away the recipe for your favourite dish.
This is taboo, but having a transparent restaurant culture could really make your establishment stand out. So give away the recipe of your favourite dish, without leaving anything out. Have your chef share how they make it on social media. Your guests will still order at your restaurant, they may even order it more often.
7. Offer inventive non-alcoholic drinks.
Provide great options for your non alcohol drinking customers. Think ginger, lime, and mint spritzers on a hot summers day. It’s cheap to make and will be sure to delight your customers.
8. Allow guests to sample wine & beer.
This is a little thing that can go a long way: If a guest asks for a sample of wine or beer, always be willing to bring them one, showing excellent customer service.
9. Involve customers in new product offerings.
If you’re planning on changing some few menu items, ask your guests what they want, post it on social media, and get them involved. It’s easy to increase restaurant sales when you find out what your guests want and then give it to them.
10. Use the guest’s name.
This has been proven on brain scans over and over again: There is no word we love to hear more than own names. Pass the guest’s name from the host stand to the server, and be sure it’s used when appropriate. Don’t go overboard, using their name once or twice throughout the meal is perfect.
11. Genuinely thank your guests, because they’re the reason you can do what you love.
Train your wait staff to thank your guests for spending their meal with you, and in the same interaction, exceed their expectations and let them know you’d be delighted to serve them again on their next visit. Remember: Make it real, no scripts here.
12. Transform your loyalty program.
Most establishments have a loyalty program. It is simple – rewarding your loyal customers for their patronage is a proven way to transform them into lifelong, repeat customers. Treating your loyal customers is far easier than constantly attracting new customers.
Bond Brand Loyalty and VISA teamed up in 2017 to launch the largest-ever loyalty study. They found that 57% of the 28,000 people surveyed want access your loyalty program…on their smartphone.
Don’t be intimidated, it’s more affordable than ever to build a mobile app for your restaurant, plus most app developers have templated loyalty programs you can customize.
13. Allow for online reservations.
Online reservations are much easier to facilitate and organize than reservations made by phone and recorded by hand in a reservation book. 83% of restaurant-goers say the ability to make online reservations is very important to dining experience.
By moving your restaurant’s reservation capabilities online, you can also record and save data about each customer, and integrate it into your restaurant’s CRM platform.
14. Try self-serve kiosks.
Are you in the quick service food industry? Guests are adapting very quickly to self service kiosk technology. This not only allows guests to order and customise their purchase, it also means staff can devote themselves to quick and efficient meal preparation.
15. Offer online ordering.
Love it or hate it, it’s here and it’s here to stay: the growth in online ordering is exploding. Guests expect to be able to order food online for pickup in the restaurant or for delivery to their homes, and there are many third party services that can facilitate this.
Considerations need to be made into costings of third party delivery services or inhouse delivery services.
16. Take advantage of chatbot technology.
Certain customer messaging platforms — like Facebook Messenger — allow companies to respond to common customer questions with automated responses.
Domino’s has successfully leveraged the power of chatbot functionality with their new Domino’s Anyware campaign. Domino’s encourages users to place orders using the messaging platform of your choice.
Customers place their order by interacting with a chatbot, which converses with customers by responding with automated messages created by the Domino’s team. As you can tell by Domino’s campaign , the possibilities (and platforms) are ENDLESS.
17. If you offer table service take payment at the table.
Guests love the ability to pay at the table. When a guest asks for the bill, they’re ready to leave – hopefully they’re full and happy, so why let their final impression of the restaurant be how long they waited to be able to leave?
Taking payment at the table eliminates waiting at the counter on the way out, or waiting for the server to collect your card, process payment and get back to you. Another perk to this new payments process is the ability to offer text or email receipts, and collect contact details for feedback.
18. Gather and implement guest feedback.
At the end of your ride, popular ride sharing service Uber send users a “rate your ride” prompt and ask for instantaneous feedback about your experience.
The same strategy can be applied to restaurants. The best time to get honest feedback from your customers is right after they’ve visited your restaurant, while their dining experience is still fresh in their minds.
How can you do this seamlessly? Does your point of sale allow you to collect guest feedback as they pay their bill? Even old-fashioned comment cards are better than nothing. Wouldn’t you be more likely to become a repeat customer if a business owner demonstrated they genuinely care about your feedback?
At the end of each week, tally up all the responses submitted and do what you can to learn from it. If there’s something that you are able to fix, contact the guest and thank them for their honesty, and invite them back to see the improvement for themselves.
Excelling in customer service is not about just giving guests what they want; it’s about giving them more than what they want. It’s about anticipating what they want, exceeding their expectations, and creating raving fans who will happily return.