Show love and appreciation to the employees and the customers.
Employees are vital to the success of the restaurant/bar or any customer interactive environment. Some customers may be retained because they see a familiar face when they visit a place of business; it is comforting for their experience. The right employees should be recognized for their outstanding efforts; even those who are not the best but put forth the effort deserve some praise. Employees need to be acknowledged in a positive manner frequently to continue their motivation and dedication to the business. Saying ‘thank you for..’ or ‘nice job doing..it real helps everyone around you’ is important to the success of customer service team. Employees that receive the love and appreciation tend to have higher retention than those that have little to no appreciation. This love boosts their morale and their personal development as an effective employee.
A happy employee can lead to happier customers. I have had sub-par food at a few restaurants but because I have had great customer service regularly, I tend to go back over and over again. I tend to overlook the average food with the above average service that shows that I am valuable to the experience, to the business and to the customer service employees.
Management can also walk around the restaurant and, other than asking ‘how’s your meal/drink so far?’, actually engage the customers and ask ‘what brought you in today’ and saying the best line (if said genuinely) ‘Thank you for coming in today, I appreciate you considering [name of restaurant] as your choice. I hope to see you guys again soon.’ and end with a big beautiful smile.
It’s a trickle down effect. With management showing and/or saying they appreciate their employees, the employees become more motivated to increase performance which can lead to a happier customer.
Don’t offer new customers something you wouldn’t offer your loyal customers.
Be accountable when providing customer service to new customers. It’s about providing value to the new experience. The server/bartender knows the ins and outs of the front operations. They should know the best way to provide the best possible experience for any customer: new or returning. By cutting corners and not offering the best possible service or products, it de-values the customer and personal improvement.
Similarly, make sure the new customer gets the amazing experience they deserve. They are taking their own time out to spend their money at the restaurant/bar. It is not required of them to do so; so make sure they get the best possible value.
If there is a popular drink or menu item that is unique to the restaurant, offer it to the new customer. If there are things that returning customers tend to enjoy, offer that to the new customers. The experience of the new customers is important. Their one experience will determine if they will come back to the restaurant or not. So it should be memorable.
Where was your favorite first time visit to a restaurant or bar? Why was it?
Under-promising and over-delivering is about creating that deep positive emotional experience. That kind of emotion leads to positive thoughts, an emotional connection to the experience and those to come.
Make those promises that can be kept. Offering advice on menu or drink selections and it turns out to be the day the chef thawed out the meat or the ice tastes salty in drinks, is not the right way to go about providing value and a connection to the customer. The promise should be something to be excited about; so over-deliver on it. An example is a new drink recipe the bartender/mixologist looked up (because they’re adding their personal value) and wants the customer to try it out of the expectation they will like it; it’s not just another drink order.
Over deliver: Do more than what’s expected. In the food and beverage industry, it’s expected to have an average service experience and awesome food and drink selections. Over-delivering is about changing that perception into a great service. At best, services are as promised. How about adding more value to the customer. Offer them a menu or selection that’s not on the usual list. Give the customer a personal recommendation of what is the best for their prefered taste.
How can you under-promise or more importantly over-deliver in your career?
Under promise and over deliver.
Begin to think about that. Say it a few times in your head slowly. Go ahead. Try it. What does that mean? Why is it important? This concept is underutilized in the food and beverage customer service and in many other industries.
Under-promising is about being responsible. It’s about not making any promises that cannot be kept. To often do businesses make a promise with false intentions or just plain do not keep promises made. Under-promising isn’t lowering expectations, it’s about being responsible and mature to realize what can be promised to the customer.
Over delivering is going above and beyond the customer’s expectations. That moment that causes them to say ‘Wow, that was an awesome experience.” Giving them more without over doing it. It doesn’t have to be a fancy big spender budget to wow a customer. It’s about keeping them in mind on what they want, when they want it.
In my next post I’ll explain how food and beverage managers can under-promise and over deliver.
When have you had a restaurant experience that was above an expectation?
“When it comes to customer service, you can be a leader. Set the example and show your colleagues what great customer service is all about.” -Shep Hyken
This is a great quote by customer service expert Shep Hyken. Anyone in the customer service industry can lead by example. This is very important in the food and beverage industry. It doesn’t matter what position an employee holds within the restaurant, they can improve those around them just by their actions and behaviors. Attitude is contagious. If an employee is upbeat, smiles frequently and busts their behind for the customers and team they’re on, this will catch the eye of fellow colleagues.
Being a leader in the food and beverage industry is absolutely required from the restaurant management position. The restaurant manager’s attitude, behavior, body language, etc. are all observed by the team and customers. The restaurant manager is naturally designated into the leadership position but they have to be affective in their role; not just expect they’re the leader because of their title.
There will be a few workers who are unmotivated to come to work or are just in a sour mood throughout a shift. Being that employee who is opportunistic about their position and using their actions as words helps those around them. Energetic behavior and dedication to the process are all a part of being a leader in the food and beverage industry. Anyone in the restaurant/bar can be a leader. This improves those around them and will be recognized by upper management.
How have you been a leader even though you were not in a leadership position?
The cliché saying that customers are always right is hardly true. Although it is a nice reminder that there eventually will be issues in the food and beverage industry regarding customers. No matter how perfect a restaurant or bar may seem, they have and continue to have customers they just cannot satisfy. That’s the nature of the industry. Alternatively, the customer may not always be right but they are a customer no matter right or wrong.
I have heard a customer service story from countless food and beverage employees. A customer who is dining or lounging in the restaurant consumes a majority of the meal or beverage and then asks to be compensated because it was not to their liking. This may be an extreme example but the purpose is the customer is not in the right in this kind of situation. The manager or supervisor on shift should handle the situation according to the top management or company policy. I’ve seen food and beverage managers refuse to meet the customer’s needs. In this situation, may be the customer may need to be compensated with something small but not the entire meal.
Customer service is not about treating the customers equally but fairly. The customers who believe they are in the right even though it may be obvious they are not need to be treated with respect no matter how outrageous their behavior or actions are. At the end of the day, they are the customer and should be treated with respect and recognition.
When have you been right about an experience but the manager argued with you?
It is important to have food and beverage specials. I have stated before that the food will sell itself. However, it will not sell itself if the word isn’t out about how awesome of a deal is going on. This is where the social media tools and advertising help out with drawing new customers and retaining the regulars.
Effective advertising/marketing are a part of food and beverage customer service. By promoting the food and beverage specials, coupons or whatever they may be, it shows that the restaurant cares enough to take the time to inform potential customers and current customers of amazing deals. Sometimes larger restaurant chains go overboard with their non-stop commercials. Not all restaurants should do that but local restaurants definitely need to bring public awareness to the community of a, ‘hey look at us, we have great food and service,’ philosophy.
These advertisements are of course suppose to drive sales and attract new customers but the smaller premise is to draw them in and taste the exquisite food while experiencing phenomenal customer service. This shows that management has confidence in the customer service it provides and the quality of items it has to offer.
What kind of advertisements has drawn you to go into a restaurant? Food or dink specials? Coupons?