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Tips for Engaging Customers at Your Restaurant

A successful restaurant is defined by its ability to maintain happy customers and this stems from excellent customer service. However, a pleasant dining experience means different things to different people.


Tips for Engaging Customers at Your Restaurant

Nevertheless, there are a few items that cut across the board when one considers what makes for satisfied customers. Here are a few things that make for happy restaurant customers (Spoiler: Food quality is not one of them).

1. Communication and Sincerity 

Here is the thing; your customers are real individuals that demand a real connection. As such, having sincere interactions with your guests starts off their experience on a positive note. Since they are looking to communicate with you, ensure that your establishment is strong on offering human experiences. 

When greeting customers in a restaurant, give them a real greeting instead of just mumbling a ‘hello’; other ways to make your clients feel special include: 

• Memorize the names of frequent visitors to make them feel acknowledged and appreciated. 

• Memorize their drink and food preferences while incorporating suggestions that are unique and appropriate. 

• Have an active social media presence which you use to communicate with your guests online. 

• Handle customer disputes honestly and directly. 

2. A Flexible Menu 

Menu flexibility is an important consideration when figuring out how to get more customers in a restaurant. Remember that people have dietary restrictions, allergies, or food preferences. Therefore, as customers today get more accustomed to fashioning their meals, a restaurant that does not allow for substitutions is likely to close shop. Obviously, you can’t meet all the demands from customers; nevertheless, a flexible menu makes for happier restaurant customers. 

As such: 

• Be open and ready to accommodate proposed alternatives. 

• Know different allergens. 

• Have alternatives ready for any item that might cause problems. 

• Include healthy options such as organic items in your menu. 

3. Staff members that are knowledgeable 

Experiences such as fine dining require the touch of knowledgeable staff. Customers expect their servers to be enlightened in subjects of wine pairings, details about seasonal menus, health information, among others. 

Therefore, any establishment that is unable to answer such questions correctly leaves a poor impression on the customers. So how can you make your staff more knowledgeable? 

• Offer training about everything your establishment provides 

• Ensure that your servers are aware of the cooking methods and specials 

4. Dealing with payments promptly 

A customer wants to be able to pay and leave after their meal and not waste any extra time waiting for the bill to be processed. Your food might have been good but make them wait after they have eaten leaves a bad taste in their mouths. By promptly handling their payments, clients feel that you respect their time, which only adds to a positive experience. 

5. The Overall experience 

Did you know that over 40% of customers would rather have an experience over anything else? As such, you need to: 

• Don’t try too hard; just be authentic. 

• Create value through quality 

• Use charm to separate your establishment from competitors 

Now that it is apparent what makes for happy and satisfied guests, what are some of the ways you could use to engage your customers more effectively? 

I. Help your employees to become more friendly 

Customer service has big implications for any business more so in service-based industries such as the restaurant business. A study revealed the close to 90% of consumers broke off their relationship with an establishment after their experienced sub-par customer service. The same study also noted that over 80% of customers will willingly pay up to 25% more just for a better experience.

As such, having an extra-friendly staff won’t hurt your business at all. As such, you should: 

• Remind your staff the importance of greeting customers in a restaurant with respect while using respectful titles such as Sir, Ma’am, and Miss.

• Ask your employees to be friendly and keep a smile on. 

• Remind your staff to retain their banter in the back rooms. 

• Assist them with listening and conversational skills. Listening skills are essential to any successful waiter. 

• Encourage them to always go the extra mile while in service. 

• To always be kind and patient to diners. 

A restaurant’s staff can either make or break the establishment. Thus, teach your team about how to talk to customers in a restaurant. 

II. Reward your Diners 

You stand to benefit from happier customers when you give them something in return for their loyalty. Utilize customer loyalty programs to earn loyal customers. Additionally, loyalty programs are a great way of having your restaurant marketed through referrals. Other ways of rewarding your restaurant customers that do not involve a loyalty program include: 

• A surprise such as a free dessert or appetizer to the diner. As the owner, you could even go the extra mile and bring the gift yourself. You will never see a happier customer after this. 

• Promo items such as mugs, cups, or pens. 

III. Turn a dispute to a good thing 

Disputes with customers are a normal thing, however, how fast and efficiently they are handled is what separates successful restaurants from the rest. Therefore, ensure your staff is well trained on how to handle disputes amicably so that the clients remain happy. 

If it is a problem with the food or service, fix the problem while also offering a gift. This appeases the guests and even if you do incur some costs, you will be rewarded by most likely converting the guest into a loyal customer. 

IV. Go through restaurant questionnaires

A questionnaire for restaurant customers is an invaluable tool for your business. Remember that customers reveal in these questionnaires what they truly feel about dining experiences. As such, you will get valuable information that you can incorporate into your business. Therefore, a questionnaire for restaurant customers will help you know about your customers’ preferences in addition to being a resourceful tool when designing a business plan. 

V. Make connections 

Encourage your staff to introduce themselves and learn the diners’ names. This way, the next time the guest comes; they will be greeted using their names which make the experience even more personal. 

Learning how to talk to customers in a restaurant is a vital tool towards the success of any establishment. 

Here are five restaurant rules for customers that you should focus on to enhance engagement with your diners. 

• Carefully set expectations 

Do not sell what you cannot provide. Customers need to know what to expect from your establishment. For instance, top notch services. 

• Ensure your products are consistent 

If you made a guest into a loyal customer by giving them the best steak they ever had, ensure that this remains the case. Failure to follow through will tarnish your reputation. 

• Consistent services 

Being a service-based industry means a restaurant cannot afford to offer mediocre services. Consistently train your staff on how to effectively engage customers. 

• Thoroughly manage wait times 

Without compromising on quality, make wait times as short as possible to show you respect the diner’s time. 

• Effective communication techniques 

Your entire staff should be trained on how to communicate with customers properly. 

Following these restaurant rules for customers is going to make for happy restaurant customers. When thinking about how to get more customers in a restaurant, people often focus on food quality over everything else. As much as tasty meals are a vital element of any successful restaurant, it is the proper engagement of customers through effective communication skills and pleasant experiences that will set your restaurant apart from the rest. 

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