Technique is an extremely important part of improving restaurant customer service, yet the attitude of service is just as important. Why? Customer perception. It is a great feat when a waiter has all of the mechanics down pat. But, if this waiter is perceived by customers as providing poor or indifferent service, he/she will not shine as much as the waiter who does not do everything correctly, but enthusiastically tries to please each and every customer.
The word restaurant itself has French origins meaning to “restore.” Today, more than ever, customers patronize restaurants seeking not only physical restoration through the consumption of food and beverage, but also psychological restoration. There is no better antidote to a long, stressful day at work than the welcome of a friendly restaurant. It may sound cliche, but yes, where “everybody knows your name.”
In the past 20 years, the culinary world has expanded tremendously with literally thousands of schools popping up all across the country and the world. Yet, they are always lagging in front of the house waiter training programs that teach the basic attitude concepts along with the mechanics of improving restaurant customer service. It is a big mistake to compete solely on the basis of food and beverage because service is often the deciding factor as to what makes a repeat customer. Owners and managers are concerned with menu upselling which is always extremely important, but getting those customers to return to the restaurant one or two times more per month boosts sales even more. Higher sales will be generated from these repeat customers not to mention the word of mouth marketing as they tell friends.
Excellent technique is 50% of improving restaurant customer service and attitude is the other 50%. That is a large percentage. With intimate human contact decreasing because of the computer age, a good psychological dining experience becomes more important than ever for the restaurant business. It is quite ridiculous for a waiter to struggle in performing his/her technique without a flaw, yet to lose out on a repeat customer by having the wrong attitude (not to mention a good tip).
As an owner or manager, you must teach your staff to be caring and concerned for each and every customer that walks through the door. It is always best to reinforce this concept in a positive way at the beginning of each staff pre-shift meeting. From that vantage point, the proper attitude will flow properly and pervade throughout the dining room for the entire shift which ulimately improves restaurant customer service. Waiters must be reminded from time to time that customers are paying for a plate of food that can cost 8 or 10 times what it costs to make at home, so they want something extra or “value added” to their dining experience. If they leave the restaurant with a full stomach and a sense of well being, it is a guarantee they will be chirping to many of their friends about a great restaurant they visited. Word of mouth marketing is by far the best kind-and it’s free!
So remember attitude, attitude, attitude because technique and style isn’t worth the same without it.