What Defines Great Restaurant Customer Service

How do you define great customer service? I bet you say things like, “My server should be friendly and attentive to my needs.” Or maybe something like, “I should be greeted immediately and in a friendly tone.” All good answers, but how do you go above and beyond this to exceed your customer’s expectations?

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What defines great restaurant customer service? I get phone calls all the time from clients that are concerned because Yelp reviews are saying that they need better customer service and they’re also receiving complaints at the restaurant. Yikes!

The first question I ask them is, “Tell me what you think great customer service is.”

I’ll hear things like:

  • staff is courteous when they answer the phone
  • you should never say no to a customer
  • need to be more friendly
  • need to be more attentive to details.

These all encompasses customer service except for the “you should never say no to a customer” part. I don’t believe in that at all, because there are times you should definitely say no to a customer. There are specific ways we do it where you don’t upset anybody, but don’t ever train your staff to never say no to customers. All of these items you should be training your staff on, for sure.

Great customer service requires great training and great staff.

Train your staff to be more attentive. They should be checking up on tables, there should be a great greeting when customers walk in the door or when they answer the phone. And, of course, staff should be friendly. This comes from very specific training, and, of course, who you hire.

My wife and I recently went to lunch at a deli here in town. The woman at the cash register was so nice, but she lacked any kind of like normal social skills. She would ask us a question and then would go on-and-on, even after we answered her question 3 or 4 minutes ago. She wasn’t picking up on the social queues that this conversation was over. You can’t train on that, it’s just a bad hire. Nothing against that sweet woman, but she just probably shouldn’t be at the registers.

So what defines great restaurant customer service?

It’s hard to define great customer service in one statement because everything we do culminates in great customer service. The way to provide great customer service in your restaurant is by exceeding your guests’ expectations.

How we do this is a little more detailed, just remember in order to exceed your guests’ expectations the first thing you have to do is know what their expectations are and go 1% above that.

One quick example I like to give when I talk about this concept is to imagine you have a very busy lunch restaurant. When customers come in for lunch, the host stand asks them a simple question, “Are you folks in a hurry? Do you have a meeting or do you have to get back to the office at a particular time?” If they say no and they’re just here to relax, seat them on one side of the dining room. But, if they said they’re in a hurry seat them in another part of the dining room.

Your staff and your managers have been trained on this so when guests are seated on the different sides of the restaurant, they know which side to react more quickly to their needs. When your server greets a table where people are in a hurry, the first words out their mouth should be, “The host informed me you’re in a hurry, let me know what time you need to get out of the restaurant and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure we do that for you.”

They should suggest the items that can cook faster and if someone orders something that takes a long time, they should say that it won’t be able to get cooked on time. This should sound like, “I know you are in a hurry, let me get your drink order now and when I come have your food order ready so I can get you out of here on time.” That is great customer service and that is exceeding your guests’ expectations.

I hope you enjoy this week’s video! Next week I’m gonna teach you my number one tip for exceeding your guests’ expectations. Have a wonderful day!


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