Have you ever been to a restaurant where the food is incredible, but the service is atrocious? It hurts the overall experience and seriously dissuades you from returning in the future. You don’t want your restaurant to be like this.
5 Ways to Enhance Guest Experience
In all industries and sectors, word of mouth marketing is extremely valuable and high returning. But it could be argued that it’s more powerful in the restaurant industry than anywhere else.
According to research published in the Toast Restaurant Technology Industry Report, 78 percent of restaurant diners say they’re likely to base their choice of restaurant on a friend’s recommendation.
Keeping this in mind, guest experience isn’t something you can treat in isolation. Sure, you’re hoping a diner has a positive experience and returns. But what you’re really hoping is that this guest has such a powerful experience that they tell five or six of their friends. In this sense, guest experience theoretically fuels exponential growth.
With this as the motivation, let’s look at some simple ways you can improve guest experience and drive results:
- Greet Within 15 Seconds
There are few things more frustrating to a diner than to walk into your restaurant and then wait around for someone to greet them. You should make it a point to speak with each party within 15 seconds of arrival. Ideally this would mean getting them on a reservation list or seated. If you’re busy, it could be as simple as acknowledging their presence and letting them know you’ll be with them momentarily.
- Teach Wait Staff Attentiveness
A good server is more than just knowledgeable of the menu and soup of the day. They proactively recognize needs so that guests can relax.
“Bringing extra napkins, an extra plate for sharing dishes, promptly refilling water glasses – all of these things require very little effort and only a general level of attentiveness, but they can vastly improve the guest experience,” says Sam Kusinitz, product marketer at Toast. “When your staff is attentive to guests’ needs, guests can focus on the food and their company rather than on tracking down the server.”
- Get the Small Things Right
A good guest experience is found in the small details that most restaurants don’t give much thought. Here are a few examples of practical things you can do:
- If you live in a cold climate area, installing a vestibule on your storefront during the winter months will prevent a cold breeze from hitting your diners each time the door opens.
- Make splitting checks easy, so as to speed up the payment process and avoid confusing guests.
- Clean your bathrooms at least once an hour to make sure they’re pristine and comfortable. The cleanliness of your bathroom says a lot about your attention to detail.
- Do Something Unusual/Memorable
You never want your guest experience to be something that’s average or forgettable. In addition to making people feel cared for, do something that they’ll find different (which will make them more likely to tell other people about their experience).
For example, you could offer a complimentary cocktail upon arrival. In the grand scheme of things, this isn’t going to cost you much – but guests will take notice.
- Treat Your Staff Well
If you expect your staff to treat your guests well, you need to treat your staff well.
While the customer may always be right when you’re out on the floor, you need to give your wait staff support behind closed doors. Let them know that you believe in them and have their backs, even when you have to go above and beyond to make guests happy. They’ll reward you with excellent service and loyalty.
Adding it All Up
Good food may be enough to keep your restaurant in business, but it certainly isn’t the only key to success. In addition to producing tasty dishes, you also need to deliver a guest experience that engages your diners and makes them feel special and cared for. If you aren’t already doing so, now is the time to shift your approach and put more focus on this critically important aspect of building and sustaining a successful restaurant.