7 Tips to Improve Customer Experience in Your Restaurant
It takes more than flavourful food and creative dishes to keep your restaurant in business. Prioritizing customer experience is one of the most important factors to grow your restaurant, keep your customers happy and turn your patrons into repeat visitors.
For most customers, going out for a meal means more to them than simply eating food. They’re looking for a fun night out, pleasant service and the opportunity to interact with friends & family. In short, they’re looking to have a good time—it's all about the experience.
And operating a restaurant isn’t easy. About 60% of all restaurants fail within their first year and around 80% of them fail within five years. The margin for error is razor thin.
That’s why it’s essential that patrons encounter a great restaurant customer experience whenever they visit an establishment. Restaurants need to delight their customers so that they can increase their odds of not just surviving but also thriving.
But how can you best improve the restaurant customer experience so that your business can succeed?
In this article, we will highlight some ways to offer a better customer experience for your patrons after discussing the importance of customer experience so that you can not only stabilize your revenue but actually increase your profits and take your restaurant to new heights!
Why Restaurant Customer Experience Is Important
Ensuring your restaurant guests enjoy an amazing customer experience goes a long way towards running a successful business.
Customers will walk in through your doors with high expectations about not only food quality but also value relative to price points, the decor, the friendliness of the staff, the overall cleanliness, the general atmosphere and so much more.
If you’re not doing everything you can to offer not merely a five-star service but an 11-star service, you’ll start to see potential patrons choose your competitors down the street over your establishment.
Simply put, restaurant customer experience is important because it increases profits, encourages repeat visits and helps attract new patrons through word-of-mouth and reviews.
In fact, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a positive customer experience is important to 74% of restaurant patrons—higher than the across-the-board average for all industries.
That same study found that 32% of customers in all industries would walk away from a brand after just one negative experience and that restaurant guests will spend up to 16% more for coffee and 12% more for dinner when delivered a positive experience over a neutral one.
This data reinforces the view that providing good restaurant customer experience is just good business as it can be more profitable for you. Your customers will be more loyal and more willing to order addons, upsells and higher-priced menu items.
Additionally, when they leave at the end of the night, if you “wowed” them enough, they’ll likely recommend your restaurant to friends and write you a positive online review, helping you attract new patrons.
Getting lots of positive five-star reviews is essential for local restaurants. A study by Harvard Business School found that improving a Yelp rating by one star correlates to a 5-9% increase in restaurant revenue.
So now that we know why restaurant customer experience is important for your business, what are some ways you can improve the customer experience for your patrons?
How to Improve Customer Experience in a Restaurant
To improve the restaurant customer experience, ensure your staff provide amazing service, offer the best menu items at the best value possible, make your interior uniquely welcoming and focus on optimizing important business operations like reviews and technology services.
It’s that simple. There are no gimmicks or surprises. As soon as you start to think in terms of going above and beyond what customers would consider five-star service, that’s how your restaurant business can start to seriously grow.
Let’s look at some specific ways to improve restaurant customer experience so your profits can soar through the roof!
7 Ways to Improve Restaurant Customer Experience
- Keep a Happy Team
- Offer Online Ordering and Reservations
- Revamp Your Space
- Master the Art of Customer Service for Better Reviews
- Audit and Update Your Menu
- Give Customers Some Birthday Cake
- Implement a Loyalty Program
1. Keep a Happy Team
Creating a great customer experience starts with investing in your team’s happiness. Satisfied employees are more likely to have positive customer interactions and higher tip amounts. They’re also more likely to stay with your business in the long-term.
So when you boost employee morale, you’ll have lower hiring & training costs and your most senior employees will know the menu backwards so they’ll be better at upselling and offering recommendations to your customers.
When your team is happy, they’ll show it off to your guests—it’s human nature because happiness is infectious. Happiness is important because 89% of customers will not return to a restaurant if they receive bad customer service.
2. Offer Online Ordering and Reservations
When you match—or better yet, exceed—customer expectations by enabling guests to order online and digitally book reservations from their personal devices, you will stand out from other restaurants in your neighbourhood by offering these benefits.
That’s because when you enable your customers to make reservations and place orders online, it makes life a lot easier for your guests and will keep them coming back. It’s all about the convenience factor.
Make sure to research online ordering systems to know which option is best for your restaurant to so you can offer a seamless online experience for your customers.
And it helps with your bottom line. Did you know that about 38% of customers will spend more than US$50 from a restaurant when they order online? That’s a lot of potential revenue you might otherwise be leaving on the table!
3. Revamp Your Space
Updating your space, the interior decor, your furniture, etc., is an important part of shaping the restaurant customer experience.
Think about who your ideal customers are and craft an ambience that they’ll want to come back to. This could include anything from unique Instagram-worthy decor to lots of comfortable seating and electrical outlets for laptops. (Don’t forget guest Wi-Fi!)
4. Master the Art of Customer Service for Better Reviews
Whether you’re trying to get more online reviews or responding to negative reviews, make sure you and your team have mastered the art of customer service.
Be patient and attentive with your restaurant guests, offer recommendations & pairings if possible and learn to upsell without being pushy in ways that delight your patrons.
Even little things like remembering your regulars’ names or favourite dishes will make them feel like you’re going the extra mile for them.
The better you delight your customers, the more likely they’ll leave you a review to help improve your restaurant’s digital presence and attract referral revenue.
And when it comes to online reviews, make sure you’re responsive and thank customers for their feedback. If you get a negative review, stay calm and professional.
Thank the customer for their feedback, apologize and try to offer a resolution. Even if you lose them as a customer, you’ll still have publicly showcased your customer service.
5. Audit and Update Your Menu
Periodically review your menu to make sure that you’re keeping all of your customer favourites.
A POS app can help you track the popularity of each menu item so that you can decide how to best optimize your menu.
Removing dishes that aren’t top-sellers can streamline your inventory, reduce food waste and save your business time and money in the long-run. This means you’ll have more money to invest in improving your customer experience.
Also, ensuring all your menu items align with the scope and theme of your restaurant will help guests feel comfortable and excited about choosing your establishment when deciding where to go eat!
6. Give Customers Some Birthday Cake
People love personalized experiences and free food. What better way to enhance the restaurant customer experience than by giving patrons a special treat for their birthday?
Plus, when your customers come back because of their appreciation for the free birthday appetizer or dessert, they’ll likely bring an entourage of family and friends with them. They’ll get a great meal and a free birthday perk, and you’ll benefit from the added sales.
7. Implement a Loyalty Program
Finally, one of the best ways to improve the restaurant customer experience for your guests is to invest in customer engagement solutions and implement a loyalty program with gift cards.
There are lots of benefits of gift card and loyalty programs. Most obviously, you can easily incentivize customers to visit you if a friend or family member gave them a gift card or if they can get loyalty rewards from repeat visits.
You’ll be able to gain insight into your patrons’ preferences, personalize & optimize your offers based on their spending habits and grow your relationship with them.
Ultimately, this will encourage your customers to return to your restaurant, spend more and bring in more revenue to help your business grow.
When you create systems to encourage your restaurant guests to extend their loyalty, that’s an ultimate example of giving them an amazing customer experience. After all, who doesn’t love gift cards and loyalty rewards?