Customer experience in a restaurant is much more than a delicious meal. Although the food may be your main course, to ensure a positive guest experience all around, you need to focus your attention on more than just your menu.
Crafting an excellent customer experience will turn visitors into loyal patrons, increase word-of-mouth recommendations, and attract new customers looking for a unique dining experience.
From the way you greet customers to the services you provide, the atmosphere, your staff, regular promotions, and of course, menu updates, we’ll teach you how to improve the customer experience in your restaurant in no time.
How to Improve Your Restaurant Customer Experience
1. Personalize your customer interactions
An excellent first impression starts from the moment you greet the customer. Train your staff on the proper way to greet customers and show them to their tables. A positive first experience will lead to returning customers soon becoming regulars.
Once they do, ask your staff to remember their names and greet them by name whenever they visit you. This is a nice touch that will make customers feel welcomed and valued at their favorite restaurant.
If you know when their birthday is, or you notice they’re celebrating an anniversary at your restaurant, bring them a bottle of champagne or a dessert on the house to reward their loyalty. Trust us; these gestures will go a long way to securing their continued loyalty.
Personalized communication extends online too. Customers who are subscribed to your newsletter will appreciate a discount coupon in their inbox on their birthday or an exclusive invite to attend an event reserved for loyal customers.
2. Expand the services you offer
There’s nothing wrong with having a dine-in exclusive restaurant. However, many people like to order food online nowadays and enjoy it in the comfort of their own homes. Not enabling delivery and pickup options would be like throwing money out the window.
Consider installing an online ordering system to your restaurant website to start accepting orders online. On that note, enable online payments too so customers can pay for their meal when they order it.
Another service you might want to consider is online table reservations with the option to pre-order food. That way, customers won’t have to wait for a table or meal. They’ll arrive at the restaurant, and their food will be ready for them to savor.
QR code menus are also extremely popular nowadays. They limit the interaction between your customers and your staff and allow guests to scan a code to browse your menu and even place the order right from their table.
3. Craft the perfect ambiance
The perfect dining atmosphere is highly dependent on your restaurant’s brand identity. The way you decorate, the way your restaurant is lit, the type of music you play in the background, as well as its volume are all factors contributing to the dining ambiance.
Give your customers what they expect when they walk through the doors but don’t be afraid to surprise them every now and then. If you have a small, family-owned Italian pizzeria, customers will walk in expecting rustic accents, checkered tablecloths, and Italian music in the background. Giving them this experience will make them feel like they’ve been transported to a holiday in Italy.
If you own a hipster bistro, you can afford to be quirkier with your design and surprise customers. Place a bicycle on the wall, hang bottles from the ceiling, or cover your walls with graffiti to create a unique atmosphere that customers will want to come back to.
4. Offer regular promotions and discounts
The way to a customer’s heart is through regular, consistent offers that make dining with you a bargain. There are many types of restaurant promotions you can try, and each accomplishes a different goal.
If you want to draw in new customers, consider a free delivery promo or a first-order discount code. If they’ve wanted to try your restaurant for a while, this promo might be what they need to finally take the plunge.
If you’re looking to secure customer loyalty and encourage customers to place repeat orders, send them a special 15% discount code that will remind them they haven’t placed an order in a while. And what better time to do it than when they can get it for less?
Meal bundles and menus are another type of promo you can try to make customers feel like they’re getting a better value for money. If you’re located next to office buildings and many people grab lunch at your place, create lunch specials with an appetizer, main course, dessert, and drink at a special price.
5. Keep improving your menu
You don’t need an extensive menu to be successful. In fact, it’s better to focus on a few things you do really well than try to make everyone happy and achieve mediocre results. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve on your existing restaurant menu. Actually, that’s recommended.
Consider creating vegetarian/vegan alternatives for your most popular dishes, allow customers to personalize their dish with extra toppings and ingredients, and release limited-time menu items every now and then.
These tactics will attract new customers to your restaurant while preserving the regulars’ loyalty. Make sure you promote all your menu changes on social media and your restaurant website to create anticipation, especially for a new menu item.
6. Address complaints accordingly
No matter how good your restaurant is, how delicious the food is, and how friendly the staff, you will eventually get complaints too. Be they directly or via online reviews, complaints are a reality in the life of every restaurant owner.
While you can’t entirely avoid them, you can learn how to deal with them so they don’t damage your reputation. First, you should look at complaints as an opportunity to improve your restaurant. Most complaints will highlight things you can do better.
If the complaint comes from a public online review, address it swiftly to show everyone you care about customer experience at your restaurant. Apologize for the subpar experience and inquire if there’s anything you can do to make it better.
You can invite dissatisfied customers to continue the conversation in private. There, you can explain the measures you took to make sure that doesn’t happen again. That way, you keep negativity away from your online reviews.
7. Organize events and celebrate special holidays
While this is by no means a must, it’s an excellent way to make your restaurant stand out in the crowd and improve the guest experience. Seasonal holidays are a goldmine to restaurants since most center around food.
Celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas at your restaurant by including traditional foods in your menu, decorating the place, and even organizing a special event. This will get customers into the spirit of the holiday.
You can also celebrate lesser-known food holidays like National Hamburger Day (May 28). Have a discount on all your hamburgers that day and post about it on social media to attract a crowd.
Customer experience is paramount in restaurants where customers have high expectations, but they’re also fiercely loyal once they find a place they love. The tips above will help you provide customers with an unforgettable experience fostering loyalty and encouraging word-of-mouth.