It’s our pleasure to introduce to you our guest blogger, LeeAnne Homsey. LeeAnne is a customer service expert from Connecticut, USA, with more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry.
She grew up in the business and moved to New York City where she managed several restaurants for the owners of Tao, Docks, Carmine’s and Marseille.
We asked her for her best tips on how to create customer service satisfaction, and here is what she recommended…
1) Accept that it means more to you than to them
As a restaurant manager or owner, first realize that most of your staff would prefer to do something else than working and start motivating and managing from there.
Your staff will respect you more when you acknowledge that your steak, your chef, your interior design and even your customers may not mean the world to them but that they mean everything to you. Discuss in pre-shift that this is your dream, and because of it, they now all have jobs. Help them understand that while they are employed with you they are helping you realize your dream and that in return you are helping them reach theirs.
2) Focus on dreams and goals
Constantly discuss during pre-shift that with customer referrals everyone will reach their dreams and goals faster. Find out what your employees’ dreams and goals are (you may be surprised!) and then manage and coach from there.
3) Better service means more money
Help your staff understand that customers who experience better customer service come back, tell friends and post it on social media platforms. Help them understand the ROI of each returning guest in dollar amounts: Say a customer dines once and leaves $8.00 in the cash register versus a “groomed and coached” one, who returns once a month on an average of two years. The latter customer leaves much more money (approximately $300.00), as he will buy more and tip higher since he is a regular, known and cherished customer.
4) Make money to earn money
Help your staff understand that they can control a large part of their own income in that they have a fully furnished business waiting to operate every time they arrive at work. A business they don’t have to pay rent or electricity for or stock with inventory, a business complete with staff and products and with a few words to friends, neighbors and introductions to area business owners about the amazing salad or steak at their restaurant, new customers could be flooding the entrance asking to sit in their section.
5) Understand the “non-dollar value”
During pre-shift, help your staff understand the “non-dollar value” of each regular customer and how it helps your employees reach his or her own individual goals and dreams.
Say for instance your server Mary has a daughter, so she needs money for schooling. If Mary learns how to steer the customers into her section instead of just waiting for them to come to her, she will generate more money. You can encourage Mary to work harder by offering a special, complimentary appetizer or champagne toast if guests come in during “non-peak” dining hours. You would find Mary honestly enjoying that kind of control over her income that she did not know she had.
You would also find Mary providing better and more personalized customer service to guests referred by friends and you would also find her beginning to provide customer service to customers before they even arrive – i.e. when she hands out business cards to business owners or employees assisting her outside of the restaurant and saying, “Thank you for your help! I would love to return the favor and give you V.I.P. treatment at the restaurant I work at. When can you come in? (I want to make sure I am there.)” Her daughter will be off to school in no time but more importantly, Mary will want to stay and work for someone who recognizes and helps her reach her goals doing a job she may not want to be doing.
6) Utilize your employees’ strengths
Recognize that each of your employees has a strength which you can inspire superior customer service to.
Mary has her daughter, many servers have school but even a lazy server can be coached to see that, when a customer is made to feel special, not only does the he feel as though he is genuinely wanted and appreciated, but Lazy Dan already knows what Joe’s preferences are and can further spoil him by remembering his name, drink or food choices which end up saving Dan several overall steps and even physically walking to the table each time.
Coach Dan that when more guests return and ask to be seated in his station, he can save on average seven miles a year just by communicating to regular guests things like, “I’ll be right over” or “Would you like another?” or “Isn’t that delicious??!!” from across the room. Of course everyone will want to know who Joe is since he is now looks like a V.I.P. and moreover, Joe feels as though he is receiving intuitive, special care and will want to bring friends and colleagues to a place where he is “known.”
7) Look for customer engagement opportunities
Coach your staff to look for customer engagement opportunities not necessarily associated with the customer’s dining experience. These opportunities almost always lead to a bigger tip and a repeat customer who will request that server’s station.
Open the door and introduce a new guest to the hostess for example. As in, “Welcome to [name of restaurant]. Can I introduce you to Ashley our hostess? Ashley this is…?” (John) “Well, welcome John, may I take your coat an make you comfortable while Ashley checks you in?” Yes or no, the server now has his name and can check on him using his name and can respond to any of his requests using his name. “It would be my pleasure John.” “Isn’t that steak amazing John?” Creating these name exchange opportunities are pretty easy.
Just coach your employees to keep their eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary; Helping someone put their coat on, checking packages, special menu requests can all be met with, “You’re LeeAnne’s customer! It is an honor! Just tell your friends to come in so I can always have a lot of customers and die a millionaire! (Haha!)” “Oh I will!” “Really, Thank you! And what is your name so I can give your friends special treatment too?” “O.K. Dave. Thank you again and now any friend of yours is a special customer of mine!”
Opening doors? Putting on coats? Checking packages? Special requests? Using customers’ names? THAT is customer service! Now just show your team how it helps them personally reach their goals faster and you will have an unstoppable team providing uncompromising and authentic superior customer service both inside and outside of your restaurant every hour of every day.
LeeAnne Homsey – The Customer Service Expert 1-860-248-0988
New York based LeeAnne is the author of the book “How To Teach Your Waiters To Brand And Market Your Restaurant For Free!”
Visit her website at http://www.leeannehomsey.com/