How Customer Service Skills & Goodwill Drive Sales

January 10, 2017 by Larry Struckman

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In food service, the mindset is that you spend hours of of training your employees year after year on customer service skills. This time of year is perfect to showcase your team’s excellent customer service skills. When you utilize your employee training to provide customer satisfaction that meets high expectations, you will see how small, memorable acts of goodwill will add up to legendary tales of service, driving sales for months and months through out the year. Learn some of our customer service tips to showcase your hospitality and drive more sales.

Focus on Customer Service Skills Training

No doubt you have emphasized the importance of providing excellent customer service during each of your training sessions as well as different tactics for assuring customer service success. During this first part of the new year, have another training that centers around providing an atmosphere of goodwill to all patrons. This customer service training should focus on:

  • An exceptional greeting: Be sure your hosts are greeting everyone with a very warm welcome and are doing everything they can to provide guests the table they want or to keep them updated on their wait time. When guests leave, have your hosts thank everyone for coming in and invite them back for a future visit. This should also be done at the table with the server making specific suggestions for a return visit in the near future to taste a feature or watch the local band that is playing. Nevertheless, have something your staff can suggest to bring customers back faster.
  • Spend more time socializing with the table: Encourage your employees to spend time chatting with the table about the menu options or upcoming events in general to provide a sense of goodwill. This is a good time to make suggestions on wine (or beer) dinners as well as capturing emails for newsletters and birthday clubs so you can showcase future events to your customers at a later date.
  • Going the extra mile: Remember, training your employees on customer service skills and the small details, will definitely go the extra mile. When the food arrives, place each dish in front of the correct patron without having to ask them who ordered what. Remember to keep all drinks refilled and check back with the guest after 2 bites or within 2 minutes of dropping off a new item. And most importantly, let your guest leave. No one wants to be stuck at a table after they have completed their meal waiting for their check to arrive. Process the check in a very timely fashion. We recommend it be no more that 3 -4 minutes from the time the guest submits the payment and it is returned back to the table.

During your customer service skills training, you should also brainstorm with the team other small details that will improve the customer experience while guest are dining at your establishment. Your staff may have some great ideas about what guests will appreciate, including a featured food or drink offering or a small gift for patrons, like wrapped chocolates as the guest leave the establishment.

Reconstruct Your Company Culture With A Focus On Customer Service Skills

While training your staff on customer service skills, you will want to emphasize certain skills to help provide the perfect atmosphere. However, you should also use this time of to reconstruct your company culture with a focus on customer service skills. From the hosts to the wait staff to the chefs in the kitchen, alter procedures and processes that will take your company's customer service skills to the next level.

Start by reducing the wait times for your customers. This doesn’t only cover when they walk in the door, but the time they wait at the table to order, get drinks, get appetizers, have their main dish served, and the time it take to receive and pay their check. The wait times throughout the dining experience should be as short as possible to help take your restaurant’s customer service reputation to the next level.

You also want to reconstruct your ongoing customer service skills training by coming up with training and processes that will improve how your employees handle unhappy customers. No matter how streamlined your restaurant is, there will always be people who are unhappy with their service or food. Create a culture that is all about incubating customer service issues with goodwill by providing exceptional training for your staff to handle customer complaints with an immediate solution.

Encourage your employees to help each other achieve this next level of customer service skills by stepping in and helping with tables that look impatient or unhappy, or communicate to busy wait staff when their table’s food is ready in the window. Even Better, designate someone to take it to the table if the server is taking an order or working with another guest. This sense of goodwill your employees carry towards each other will reflect automatically with your customers and will create a team atmosphere going forward.

Exceed Customer Expectations With Renewed Customer Service Skills

After focusing on customer service skills training and updating your company culture with a service-focused approach, you will now begin to exceed customer expectations and start turning them into raving fans. This is important, because a Customer Experience Report found that the number one reason customers will stop visiting a restaurant due to poor quality and rude customer service. This reason was chosen 18% more often by customers than slow or untimely service.

Check that the training you provide your employees is migrated into real life scenarios by walking the floor and observing the wait staff in their element. Take notes on general issues you see and ask guests how their experience is in the midst of their visit. Hold pre-shift meetings the first week after emphasizing your renewed company culture and implementing customer service skills training so you can provide feedback and help your staff improve their customer service skills.

Get Feedback on Customer Service Experiences

Not only should you ask guests how their experience is while they are dining in your restaurant, you should also gather feedback after they are done with their meal. Have your staff provide customers with a way to communicate back to you. Using programs like Talk to the Manager or in house comments cards allow guest to explain the best and worst parts of their experience. To help ensure they will take the time to provide you feedback you can offer them an incentive like a free drink, free appetizer or maybe even 10% off their next visit. This feedback alone will be a huge help in refining your customer service skills training and taking your restaurant’s reputation to the next level.

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Larry Struckman

Passionate about setting up systems and procedures that assure success, training, consulting, growing sales, strategic planning, creating "raving fan" customer service and just about anything related to food service. 25+ years in food and sales as well as growing hundreds of concepts with different operators (I have seen them all). I enjoy cooking, computer software, Taekwondo and spending time with my family. We started ShiftNote in 2007 to help organizations like yours create a better platform for shift-to-shift communication across their organization. Our purpose is to serve you with the best online digital logbook and employee scheduling software on the market so you can spend more time focusing on growing your business.