Guide to Restaurant Customer Service

Two happy customers drinking coffee
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Customer service is an integral part of running a successful restaurant. It doesn't matter how fabulous your new restaurant looks or how delicious the food is, if the service isn't good, customers are not likely to return. As a restaurant owner, it is imperative that you tackle customer service from many different aspects. After all, you can't be everywhere at once, and you need to know that you have a reliable staff to handle any issues that may arise. In addition to training your staff to offer excellent customer service, you need to have a protocol in place for handling customer complaints.

You can also demonstrate good customer service by showing your customers how much you appreciate their business, through discounts, promotions, and other low cost (or even free) initiatives. Lastly, good customer service means that you are a responsible restaurant owner- this means knowing how to deal with customers who've had too much to drink in a positive, empathetic manner.  

Empower Your Restaurant Staff

The first step in great customer service is your restaurant staff. A well-trained front of house staff will keep customers happy and coming back for more. Not just anyone can wait tables or tend bar. Good wait staff are among the most talented people out there. They are friendly, but not annoying. They can multitask, but still give customers their undivided attention. And they are honest, trustworthy and can work as a team. Read on for how to hire for the front of the house.

Know How to Handle Customer Complaints

The next step in great customer service is how you handle customer complaints. No matter how hard you try, things are bound to go wrong once in a while. Food gets burned, orders get forgotten in the middle of a dinner rush, or new servers simply forget all their training. No matter the reason for the complaint, the important thing is to try and please the customer. You should acknowledge that yes, there was a problem, but it is not what they should expect from your restaurant. 

Show Your Customer Appreciation

Actions speak louder than words, and that is certainly true of customer appreciation. There are countless ways you can show your customers how much you appreciate their business. And it doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money (or any money in some cases). Fr example, personal attention, especially by the owner or manager can go a long way in making customers feel special. Read on for tips on how to make every customer feel like they are a VIP.

Be a Responsible Restaurant Owner 

Responsibly serving liquor is probably the biggest way to show customers you value them. After all, you don’t want to see a patron who’s had too much to drink get behind the wheel of a car and hurt himself or someone else. Therefore, if you are planning on serving liquor at your new restaurant, then you should be familiar with all your state liquor laws. While liquor laws vary from state to state, in most cases if a person is involved in an accident while drunk you, as the owner of the establishment that served them, may be held liable as well.

It is also important that your wait staff understand how to identify a person who is intoxicated, so they don’t serve (or continue to serve) them. Occasionally you may have to deal with a patron who’s more than a little tipsy.