As a multi-unit restaurant operator, the customer experience is vital to your operations, business and brand. Managing the customer experience should be a top priority and is the responsibility of every single person in your restaurant organization. Taking the time to make sure every step of the customer experience is strong will make it more likely customers will come back and tell their friends about your company.
With that in mind, we have compiled a list of tips to support you in your effort on delivering a great customer experience that delights your customers and benefits your bottom line.
1. Invest in the Digital Experience
Too many operators are looking for a quick and dirty solution, for a maximum return when it comes to their digital experience. The reality is that to have an optimal return on investment (ROI), you must invest in the appropriate technologies, systems and processes. Such investment enables you to capture customer data that leads you to an improved understanding of your customers – how, when, and what they want. And when your digital experience is implemented correctly, the ROI is substantial to your overall operation.
2. Offer More Ways to Order
Today’s restaurant customers want to order when they want, where they want and how they want so your restaurant needs to be set up to capture orders in the most plentiful way possible – especially beyond the four walls of your restaurant, including online, mobile, phone and social ordering as well as availability in digital marketplaces.
3. Integrate All Systems to POS
Your POS is the nerve center of your entire operation. All of your systems, both front-of-house (FOH) and back-of-house (BOH), should all be integrated and tied in to each other. In doing so, your customer experience will improve as all orders will be directly submitted to your POS and your operations will run seamlessly with fewer errors.
4. Offer All Forms of Off-Premise (Delivery, Takeout & Catering)
According to the NPD Group, “the most popular place to eat out in 2018 will be in our own homes.” This means more and more customers of your business are shifting away from dining in your restaurant and to the convenience of delivery, takeout and catering. And like tip #1 above, the customer may choose varying ways to order at any given time, so your off-premise ordering solution should encompass online, mobile, voice, chat and social ordering as well as be set up to enable future innovations that are only now beginning to be available like voice automation, bots and artificial intelligence.
5. Link Social Media Advertising Directly to Digital Ordering
With digital off-premise ordering you can capture more data than ever before. This means that any social media marketing and online advertising campaigns you run should be directly linked to your digital ordering platform. From there you will have a greater understanding of the campaign success.
6. Enable Loyalty Program to Boost Customer Insights
When you attract new customers through your marketing campaigns, enable them to immediately enroll into your loyalty programs while you have their attention. In doing so, the customer journey becomes circular and the data captured provide valuable insights empowering your marketing.
7. Commit to Regular Training Right from the Start
Speaking and greeting customers appropriately, proper etiquette, menu and ingredient knowledge and a slew of other service skills all impact the customer experience delivered by the live talent employed to serve your customers. With that in mind, no human is perfect – so competency needs to be continually refined through training from day one. The commitment to training by extension demonstrates your brand’s commitment to its customers and their experience.
8. Reduce or Eliminate Wait Times
Nobody ever enjoys waiting – especially when hungry. But a memorable dining experience often falls victim to several moments when customers are left waiting – long wait times in the lobby, long on-hold times on the phone, long delivery times etc. Monitor your operations and determine how much time on average your customers are waiting in a variety of scenarios. Then create a plan to address the problem and reduce or eliminate time your customers spend waiting.
9. Seek and Gather Feedback then Fix Problems Immediately
Create opportunities for your restaurant to connect more deeply with your customers by asking them to provide feedback. You’ll find that some of the best learnings come straight from your customers. And giving them the opportunity to provide feedback creates goodwill – especially if you provide incentives for their willingness to help. Comb through online reviews and recorded calls (or if you use a calling center collaborate on call quality). With the information you collect, then address the problems swiftly to improve shortfalls and advance the customer experience.
10. Offer Additional Value
Value never gets old – and the best business is one that consistently repeats itself. Through your loyalty program, you can engage with your customers repeatedly through offers, rewards and redemptions that appeal to them originating from the data you have collected. The customer receives value through offers they enjoy improving their experience with your brand.