Where do you start when you want to look after your customers and grow your business?
1. We all want to feel acknowledged and special – Where ever you go, you want to feel you are number one even in a crowd of hundreds. Acknowledging a customer as they enter your establishment with an honest smile and “Hi how are you?” or “How can we help you?” is the perfect way to start the customer server relationship.
2. Employ staff who genuinely care about your business and who are inspired by what you do and understand their part in the big picture – The difference between service and fantastic service is made when genuine staff who go above and beyond the hospitality line that is commonly drawn in the sand. Having staff who want to be at work, who love what they do and respect their owners/managers and the business will make a huge difference to how they treat your guests and customers.
3. Treat customers as if they are family – Those of you in the service industry may be in it for many different reasons. I am in it because I love to look after people ensuring they are feeling comfortable, well fed with nice drinks, feeling like they have walked into the home of their long lost nonna. Customers love it when you remember their name; you recall your last conversation with them, and especially when you remember how they like their coffee or food. It’s the little things and the little extras that make all the difference.
4. As much as you give away you will get back tenfold – I have never been one to be stingy. I am Italian of course, so being generous with food and hospitality comes naturally and I can honestly say it makes a real difference when it comes to your customers. A free little treat here and there, a discount voucher, some bread or olives to start, rewarding your regular customers who like your Face Book or sign up to your newsletter. All these ideas make your customers feel special and appreciated and we all know how good that makes us feel. It’s a small price to pay for returning patronage and a thriving business.
5. Train your staff to be themselves and offer an honest service – So many times I have been to venues with contrived wait staff who are so cool, they have no personality and lack any integrity with service and although their service was attentive and professional you were made to feel like you didn’t belong. Being served by an honest genuine staff member who treats you with a warm smile, respect and like the welcomed guest that you are is so refreshing. To have a laugh, crack a joke or to just have a conversation with one of your customers will definitely give you the service edge over an uninterested, robotic service member.
6. Pre-empting your customers’ needs – This I believe comes with years of customer service experience, knowing the industry and having the ability to see everything even when you are not looking. Bringing over a cushion for an elderly customer to sit on, helping someone with the door, assisting mothers with strollers, moving tables for people to be more comfortable, extra napkins for parents dining with children, all these little extras are so unexpected by most customers that they will be blown away guaranteeing they will leave telling all their friends about your unexpected kindness.
7. Give your customers what they want – Business owners often get this wrong and open their venues revolving around what they think their customers want. Open yourself up to emailing out customer surveys or offering customer feedback forms. The responses can be both confronting and engaging but they are key to really find out how you are going with regards to the wants and needs of your customer.
8. Your floor is the theatre stage, not the dressing room – Often I am blown away when I go out to see staff eating, drinking, chatting, leaning on benches and really treating their job like they are on holidays with their friends. Treat your venue floor like a stage, keep it professional at all times, don’t have your staff gossiping about other staff, customers or anyone for that matter. Do you best to try not to call out across the venue, or reprimand staff in front of customers. People go out to dine, to have coffee or a drink to relax, meet with friends or escape from their day, they do not want to be in the middle of a chatting match or made to feel like they are inconveniencing your staff for being there and needing service.
9. Make sure your staff are well-informed about everything – Introduce them to your Vision Mission and Values, explain to them your expectations and service style, your policies and procedures and details of the menu. Ensure they are well-versed in the menu, beverages and any specials, different dietary requests and what makes your business unique from others. The more you inform your staff the better equipped they will be to look after the needs of your customers.
10. Motivate, reward and look after your staff – Praising your staff when they have done a great job is integral to giving them a sense of ownership, a feeling of job satisfaction and confirmation they are on the right track with their service and that they are following your sequence of service and style. This, in turn, will keep your staff happy and correspondingly reflect onto the service they give your customers.