Restaurant Customer Service
The Fine Art of Making Diners Happy
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There may be no place in which customer service has higher stakes than in a restaurant. People come for good food, but they also come to be pampered. The nicer the restaurant, the more pampering customers expect.
Any front of house manager worth his or her mettle trains wait staff to hit certain points; for example, bring each table water, tell them the specials, take a drink order, etc. Each point should be met within a short period of time so customers don't wait for a seemingly long time for service. But these points are just the beginning; true customer service goes far beyond bringing bread to the table.
Customers are guests in your dining room; treat them as such. Greet them warmly as if your best friends just walked through the door. Give them a sincere smile. Do your best to seat them where they would like to be sat and to make them comfortable.
The best wait staff are more than just efficient, they are gracious. No matter how busy the restaurant is, each table is treated like the only table. Do not allow wait staff to rush from table to table, they must learn to take a deep breath and relax before approaching any table, give the table the attention it needs, then move on.
Servers who make the largest tips are the ones who are able to make customers feel not only comfortable and happy, but liked, too. A sense of friendliness goes a long way toward making customers' dining experiences pleasant. As customers will want to repeat pleasant experiences, personable waitresses and waiters are extremely good for business.
Train wait staff to listen attentively when people at their tables speak and to seem interested in what they have to say. They should accommodate customer requests as much as possible. Seeming disinterested or distracted is poor service and will be rewarded as such.
Make sure all of your customers' needs are attended to. Managers and wait staff should offer to hang up coats for guests, fetch booster seats for children, and refill water glasses before they are empty. Unfinished food should be packed up in to go boxes by restaurant staff away from the table; never, never allow a server to simply bring a to go box to the table and leave it there for the customer to fill. The point is to anything you can for the customer and make him feel well taken care of.
Last, when a customer feels something has gone wrong, listen. A good restaurant manager knows that listening politely and attentively to customer complaints is part of giving good service. You need not agree with a complaint to listen.