Customer Service: Is Your Restaurant Forgetting The Basics?

When you run a restaurant, you expect people to come flocking to it every day! Unfortunately for some restaurateurs, the reality is a far away prospect from the expectation! Running a place where people go to eat isn’t that different to operating any other kind of business. Your customers are at the forefront of what you do, and it’s your job to make what you offer appealing to them. Otherwise, they’ll spend their money with your competitors.


Sure, running some promotions from time to time might entice people to dine at your eatery. And it may even attract some free publicity from your local media outlets. However, some restaurant owners are guilty of not covering the basics when it comes to customer service. As you can imagine, you are in an industry where you deal with the public and come face to face with them each day.


You aren’t sitting in an office somewhere, nor are you stuck behind a telephone answering calls all day long. When a customer isn’t happy about something, they will tell you to your face! Of course, if they happen to be rather vocal about their complaints, other diners will notice. Soon, the word will spread about the bad service from your restaurant if complaints are a regular occurrence.

By now, you are no doubt wondering just what are the “basics” that you might be forgetting? In today’s blog post, you’ll learn more about the foundations of restaurant customer service that you need to keep on top of. Once you’ve got that sorted, people will generally only say good things about your establishment! Without further ado, here is what you need to know:

Make sure you’ve got the right talent


When your customers enter your restaurant, they expect to get greeted by a member of your waiting staff. The first impressions they get from your establishment will start from the moment they walk through the door! From the time they are greeted to when they leave, it is imperative that your team offer a welcoming and friendly environment to your customers.


To make that happen, you need to have the right talent working for you. Many restaurants only hire minimum wage workers and care little about training them up to a particular standard. As you can appreciate, the majority of such establishments seldom last long!


If you want to provide a high standard of service to your restaurant’s customers, you need to hire the right people to work in your team. Sure, that means paying them a fair and decent wage. But, you should ensure the people you interview are passionate about high standards as you are.

Assuming you aren’t an expert when it comes to HR matters, it pays to work with a company like Ellis Whittam. Such firms can give you help and support on a variety of human resources issues, including legal obligations. After all; the last thing you want is for your staff to sue you!

Streamline your booking system


One of the biggest complaints customers make about restaurants is when their bookings get misunderstood or forgotten. Imagine a party of 20 people turning up to celebrate a wedding only to discover that someone forgot to reserve some tables for them! It’s a nightmare scenario and sadly one that happens all too often.


To combat such total breakdowns of customer service, you need to invest in a streamlined booking system. The good news is that cloud-based systems such as NexTable make it easy to manage tables in your restaurant and they also link up to your website. The latter means your customers can book online and those details will show up at your restaurant instantly!


Make the right use of space


Let’s face it; there are a plethora of table configurations that you can apply to your restaurant! The one you go with should allow you to seat as many people as possible without your customers feeling like canned sardines! You should also have contingency plans in place if you need to join tables together for large group bookings.

Another reason to put some thought into your table layout is the speed of service. If your waiting staff have to navigate a complex maze of tables, they will be slower to serve all your customers. So, in short, you need to make life easy for both your guests and your employees!

Waiting for a table doesn’t have to be stressful for your customers


There will often be times where people come into your restaurant without a reservation. You want their custom, but you hate the thought of making them wait for ages to get a table! So, what should you do in such circumstances? Should those people just accept they might have to wait an hour to sit down and eat? Or is it better to just turn those diners away?


Neither of those answers is acceptable. The best way to deal with such situations is to make them as stress-free as possible, both for you and them! One example is to have a bar area where they can sit down and have a drink while they wait. It’s also a good way to make extra revenue if they buy alcoholic, soft, or hot drinks at the bar.


Plus, it also offers options to people that may prefer some tapas-style snacks rather than a full three-course meal!

Train your waiting staff to provide superior customer service


When people enter your restaurant, they usually do so because they want to have something to eat and drink while enjoying the company of others. The job of your waiting staff is to be their hosts; after all, your customers are guests in your establishment! In the hospitality industry, the customer is always number one.

There will be times where your staff needs to accommodate special needs and requests from your guests. For example, you may have guests with food allergies or intolerances such as celiac disease. It’s vital to take their needs into account when organizing food orders. For a start, it means your guests won’t get ill! And, second, it shows them that you care about your customers.


It doesn’t matter whether you’ve just hired a new waiter or you’ve got people that have worked many years for you. What does matter is that they are all trained to deliver the highest level of service to the guests they attend to. It can also pay to have long-serving staff attend refresher courses on customer service.


You might think that the food is the most memorable thing about an eatery. But, people will often remember how they got treated rather than the meals they ate!


Ensure your waiting staff are dressed for the part


It doesn’t matter whether you run a five-star restaurant or a pizza house. Your staff should be wearing clothes that portray the right image for your business. If your employees need a uniform, you must ensure that you supply it to your staff.

Restaurants often have their waiting staff wearing uniforms so that customers can identify them. Plus, it also means they can see how attentive your employees are to both them and your other diners.


It doesn’t take much effort to design the right uniform for your restaurant. In fact, there are many companies like Cintas that are happy to help you create the right look!


Don’t ignore your diners


It’s customary to ask your guests if everything is okay with their meals and drinks a short time after they have been served. While that may happen as standard in your restaurant, are your staff keeping an eye on your guests? It’s important to do so in case your diners may wish to order more food and drinks, or if there’s a problem that needs resolving.

One of the bugbears that restaurant customers have is when they must wait a long time to catch a waiter’s attention. Your waiting staff must be eagle-eyed and eager to please customers. Don’t ignore your diners, or they will end up eating elsewhere in the future.

Keep on top of your cleaning


Last, but not least, your restaurant must always be clean for your guests at all times. Even when you are experiencing busy periods! The cleanliness of a restaurant is paramount to the ultimate dining experience of your guests. Plus, it ensures you comply with local laws regarding restaurant hygiene.


The thing about cleaning is that the task doesn’t take long to do if it’s done on a regular basis. It’s also important that dirty plates, glasses, cups, and cutlery get cleared away as soon as possible. For a start, it shows diners that you have enough staff to clean each table. Plus, you won’t run out of things to serve food on!


Once your last customers have left for the evening, clean and tidy the restaurant before you leave. You might think it makes more sense to do that in the morning, but here’s the thing: people walking past your restaurant can see inside of it, even when you’re closed. You don’t want to give potential customers the impression that you can’t be bothered to clear away any mess!

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