It doesn't matter if you're running a small restaurant or a large chain—the fact is that your customers are your most important resource. Anyone who's been through the challenges of marketing campaigns knows that it's easier to retain existing customers by inspiring customer loyalty than it is to attract new customers. Customer support is crucial in any line of work, but in the food and hospitality industries, it's the real make or breakpoint. If you're leaving guests bored while they have to wait longer than advertised for their food, aren't proactive about customer satisfaction, or aren't providing convenient methods for delivery orders, such as online ordering, then you're likely to be pushed out by your competition.
It isn't always about offering the best food or the best atmosphere. Many times, excellent customer service will be the deciding factor in your favor versus other restaurants. Here are just four great ways that you can boost customer service in your restaurant and get ahead of the competition.
1. Streamline customer wait times.
Independent restaurants that constantly have long lines might seem like they're doing things right, but in the restaurant industry, a reputation for long wait times can be the kiss of death. It's important that customers are entertained while waiting for their food, which is why it's a good idea to set up TVs in the dining area, but it's ideal to keep them from waiting long at all. You can always reevaluate how you train your staff, and look for any inefficiencies in the staff's processes. This will eventually yield diminishing returns, however, and it may not be enough.
One way that restaurants of all sizes can make things more orderly is by taking reservations for large parties, even if the restaurant is usually walk-in or pickup only. This way, you can have staff ready for them in advance for an optimal ordering experience. Allowing payments for food orders through a mobile app can also streamline takeout orders. Just having customers divided into groups of dine-in and takeaway orders can go a long way toward simplifying things.
2. Use CRM integrations with your POS.
If you aren't doing so already, then you really need to start embracing technological convenience in your restaurant. Digital transformation is a vital part of any modern business, and restaurant owners don't get to be an exception. A point of sale (POS system) solution helps you combine ordering and payments, making processing any transaction fee a breeze.
A great example is when coffee shops let users select their menu items using a tablet out front, and then they can use touch pay by credit card as the easiest way to pay. Of course, a restaurant POS system doesn't have to rely on menus at the front. You could also equip your staff with mobile devices to take customer orders and process payments anywhere in the restaurant.
A restaurant POS can do more than make ordering more convenient. POS integration with a customer relationship management (CRM) system allows for the real-time collection and retrieval of customer data. Whenever new customers come in, they can be automatically entered into the system, and this makes it easier to offer more personalized experiences for your best customers. The premise is that you can create loyalty programs where you provide promotions, discounts, and other special offers to customers who repeatedly use your ordering system to show your appreciation.
Customers love to know that they're important to your business, and the more you can customize their experience, the more likely they are to keep coming back. These integrations also simplify inventory management, make sure you know when to contact your vendors, simplify phone orders, and deliver actionable insights on customer behavior, so you'll have reliable information to go on for menu management.
3. Be proactive about customer reviews.
You can run everything inside your restaurant to practical perfection, but without a strong online presence, you'll still have trouble making it in the digital world. Naturally, your own restaurant website should be informative and filled with key features like an online menu and detailed product descriptions. Your own website won't cut it alone, though. You also need to be active on social media and engage with customers in any way that you can to show that their opinions are important to you.
One smart way you can do this is by participating in review aggregates like Yelp. Reviews are often of great importance to restaurant owners, especially those who own small restaurants, and responding to reviews can be great for your image. That doesn't just mean responding to the positive ones, either. If you're seeing negative reviews online or on a third-party app, it's important that you address the customer's concerns and explain how you'll be rectifying them in the future.
Even if you don't win back the customer who left the negative review, it will show other users that you care about the experience. It may not seem like much, but this can have a positive outcome for your bottom line.
4. Embrace online orders and delivery.
Online ordering has become hugely popular even since the lockdown restrictions with COVID-19. If you don't have one set up already, you absolutely need an online ordering system and delivery platform. Many owners decide to become restaurant partners with a delivery business like Grubhub, DoorDash, ChowNow, Postmates, or Uber Eats.
These food delivery partners take your food to your customer in exchange for commissions. It doesn't have to be that way, though. You can combine your online ordering software with all of your delivery apps in one online ordering platform to boost online sales and simplify the ordering process.
At Cuboh, we make it easy to collect all your online food orders and delivery apps in one tablet, where you can get push notifications on all developments. We also offer seamless integration with your POS, KDs, and anything else you need. Your online food ordering system can be onboarded in one to ten days, depending on the complexity of your operation, and it will make curbside pickup, online payments, and deliveries easier than ever for both you and your customers. Take your restaurant into the future for a simple monthly fee, and start boosting your monthly sales today.