Customer experience is the effect of an interaction with an organization and the customer over the course of their relationship. Typically the attempts to improve customer experience focus on quicker service, better dishes, and friendlier servers. However, customer experience is more than just these things, it goes deeper into the entirety of the restaurant functioning. It speaks to the cleanliness of the bathrooms to the speed of checkout. If you are looking for ways to improve customer experience, there are many ways to do so that don’t involve changing the kitchen or front of house staff.
There are a number of ways to improve the overall maintenance and cleanliness of your restaurant; the easiest way to improve this is by standardizing your maintenance processes. You can add a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to your restaurant toolkit to standardize your processes. A CMMS allows you to create consistency by creating preventive maintenance schedules and maintenance checklists. By creating these things you can allow your staff to know what tasks are due in an easier more efficient manner. When these streamlined processes are in place you no longer have to fear the possibility of having your equipment breakdown during service or having your customers complain about a dirty or unkempt restaurant.
When a customer is ready to pay, they don’t want to have to wait an inopportune amount of time for their server to return with their check or their credit card. Having an out of date or constantly malfunctioning point-of-sale system can end what would have been a wonderful evening out on a sour note. With the multitude of different smart restaurant POS systems available for you to implement, there is no excuse for using a POS system that breaks every time the wind blows. Some POS systems even allow for smartphone and tablet use so that customers can pay at the table without having to wait.
Put Your Menu Online
Unless you have a menu that changes drastically on a daily or hourly basis, there is no reason for your restaurant to not have its menu available online. Even a daily rotating menu can be easily updated with the easy to use website building options. Customers have a variety of dietary needs and if they have to wait for a table and be seated to find out that you don’t have anything for their gluten-free or vegan diet, you can count them posting a bad review of your restaurant on social media or a variety of review websites. Customers are even appreciative of a company that goes out of its way to let them know beforehand that they do not cater to their needs, you aren’t winning over picky customers by not letting them know what to expect, you’re turning them off.
Provide Online Ordering Options
While this may not be an option for fine dining establishments that pride themselves on giving their food in a particular setting, if you are a fast-casual or other type eatery, one way that you can improve your customer experience is to add an online ordering option for customers that are busy and still want to savor your cuisine from the comfort of their home. This can be as easy as joining up with an online service provider where they will provide you with the tools necessary. This will help to improve your customer experience and allow you to find new customers who don’t necessarily have time to eat out.
Make it Easy to Give Feedback
If you want to improve customer experience the easiest way to do so is to make it easier for your clientele to give you direct feedback on their experiences, both good and bad. This can be as easy as setting up a section on your business’ website for comments that will go directly to the mailbox of the manager or owner who deals with customer experience. By providing customers an easy outlet to have their questions and concerns heard, you keep them from venting on social media about the negative experience they had. This also allows your customer service team the ability to address the concerns quietly and quickly directly with the customer before it becomes an issue.
Many of these improvements will not only improve the experience that your customer has with your restaurant but will also improve the restaurant as a whole. For example, by adding a CMMS to improve your maintenance you will likely decrease expenditures on repairing neglected kitchen equipment and also have a cleaner restaurant as a whole improving your health department rating. Each of these action items will help to improve not only the customer experience but the restaurant as a whole.
About the Author
Warren Wu started his restaurant career as a waiter at Common Theory Public House in San Diego. He now leads growth at UpKeep, a maintenance software company that was created to empower maintenance teams to make better decisions from data-driven insights.