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9 Ways to Improve the Customer Restaurant Experience

By: SmallBizClub

 

Group of happy friends having fun while waiter is serving them food in a pub. Focus is on waiter.

When someone asks, “Where should we go for dinner?” you want your restaurant to be everyone’s go-to spot. But how do you rise to that rank in such a crowded market? By creating a memorable, one-of-a-kind customer restaurant experience that sets your restaurant apart from the competition. 

Restaurateurs must prioritize effective strategies that focus on building strong relationships with their diners and the community they serve. Ultimately, the goal is to foster customer loyalty which can have a direct impact on the long-term financial success of your restaurant. 

Let’s take a look at why, and how, restaurant owners and management can improve satisfaction by focusing on a customer-first restaurant experience. 

Why Does Customer Experience Matter?

The restaurant industry is not only competitive, but margins are razor thin and traffic from one day to the next is very difficult to forecast. 

With so many options to choose from, customers are more likely to return to restaurants where they’ve had positive customer experiences.

Additionally, the better the experience, the more likely a person is to tell their friends about it. In fact, most consumers value word-of-mouth recommendations. 90% of consumers make purchases or become ongoing customers when family, a friend, or someone they trust has had a positive experience with a brand or business. 

You want to do everything you can to build that joyful, memorable interaction that keeps customers and their acquaintances coming back for more. 

9 Strategies to Boost CX at Your Restaurant

Let’s dive right into ways restaurant owners and managers can create a positive dining experience and increase customer loyalty. 

Personalize Hospitality

Adding a personal touch to the dining experience can have a positive impact on relationships with customers.

Creating a guest profile, which holds a record of customer information and preferences, is an effective way to customize the dining experience and increase customer happiness. 

Here are some ideas of touch points to include to support a personalized dining experience:

  • Address the customer by name
  • Remember any dietary restrictions
  • Remember anniversaries, birthdays, and special occasions

Staff members can also use guest profiles to recommend menu items or offer complimentary treats based on their preferences. 

Implement Table Touch Policies

A table touch is a technique where management visits guests at their tables to check in and ask about their experience. Table touching is a strategic way to gain direct insight into customer opinion. 

A simple question such as, “How is everything going?” can lead to feedback on the staff, wait times, menu options, and food quality. If there are any complaints, this is an opportune moment to address them immediately, which can increase customer satisfaction and engagement before it gets to the review stage (that’s next).

Engage With Online Customer Experience Reviews

Many customers provide feedback and reviews online, whether through social media or review platforms like Yelp or Google. In today’s flooded market, consumers turn to reviews to make their decisions on which businesses and brands to buy from. 

Businesses that take the time to respond to customers and reviews show an extra level of care and customer service. Remember to address both positive and negative reviews. Doing so shows your appreciation for those who had good experiences, and also addresses the concerns of others.

Don’t Ignore Complaints

Speaking of concerns, of course not every customer is going to leave happy, despite your efforts to create a positive experience at your restaurant. When a complaint is brought to the management team, address the issue as soon as possible. 

Whether it’s long wait times, order mistakes, or cleanliness concerns, it’s important to listen to the customer, acknowledge the issues, and promptly address them. It may be uncomfortable, but facing complaints upfront may prevent poor reviews later. 

However, negative reviews do happen. Responding to negative comments or feedback is another chance to foster positive relationships with customers. Validate their concerns and provide actionable steps you and the restaurant can take to rectify the situation. 

Offer Convenient Order Methods

In a post-pandemic world, customers are still interested in quick and convenient ordering methods that minimize their wait time or allow them to order their food to go. 

Restaurateurs can adopt digital solutions that offer a variety of simple and user-friendly ordering experiences. Different methods of ordering may include:

  • Order online for delivery
  • Order online and pick up in person
  • Use a contactless ordering kiosk at the restaurant and pick up in person

Choose Music to Set The Mood

One of the secret weapons of creating a good dining experience is playing music that sets the right mood. 

Music contributes to the overall ambiance of the restaurant. A vast majority of consumers (81%) actually notice the music in restaurants, and over 40% stick around when they like it! 

Music has a psychological effect on people. The calmer and more relaxing the music is, the better customers feel. This can encourage them to stay longer and order more food and dessert, and appreciate the setting the restaurant offers them.

Need to brighten the mood? Opt for upbeat tunes to pick up the pace of workers and diners alike and make for a high-turnover Saturday night. 

Incorporate Electronic Payments

These days, any method to streamline the order and payment process can go a long way. Using apps and kiosks, as well as contactless payment options like Apple Pay and Google Pay offers a convenient way to check out and improve restaurant efficiency. 

Multiple payment methods also offer customers flexibility, increasing customer satisfaction and encouraging customers to return.

Build Incentives and Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs exist to encourage people to return and become repeat customers. Different methods of loyalty programs, such as point systems, punch cards, or tiered programs can be adapted to your restaurant’s needs and priorities. 

The more customers work toward attaining rewards, the more restaurants make money and increase overall revenue growth. 

Consider these reward ideas and incentives to incorporate into your loyalty program: 

  • Free meals for birthdays or special occasions
  • Promotional or seasonal discounts
  • Free delivery after X orders are placed online
  • Exclusive or early access to menu items

Invest in Team Training

Although the main focus may be meeting customer needs, restaurant owners must also prioritize their team and staff. 

Training has a positive impact on improving safety and health compliance, squashing harassment and other components, and of course boosting the customer experience.  

Hard and soft skills training is critical for everyone, but especially front-of-house staff as they are the face of your restaurant, directly interacting with customers. The most successful teams are equipped with the skills and confidence to not only perform their duties, but also to engage with customers, provide excellent customer service, and handle conflict resolution. 

How Will You Improve Your Customer’s Restaurant Experience?

Creating a positive, memorable customer experience goes way beyond serving food.

By focusing on the above strategies, restaurants can differentiate themselves from the competition, cultivate strong relationships with customers, and build a level of satisfaction that leads to retention and revenue. 

Author: Zaida Marston is a content writer specializing in B2B SaaS, tech, and healthcare. Her work has appeared in U.S. News 360 Reviews, TechTarget, History-Computer, and MindBodyGreen. With a background in theatre and creative writing, Zaida blends creativity with research to write SEO-focused and value-based content.  

Published: May 3, 2024
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