Restaurant staffing issues can have a huge negative impact on your establishment’s customer experience. Whether in your dining room or through online sales channels, poor restaurant experiences can lead to a variety of issues that ultimately affect your revenues: refunds, discounts, negative reviews and customers never returning to your business again.
Everyone knows that one of the keys to a delightful and profitable customer experience is through your staff. But in today’s post-pandemic world, finding qualified personnel—or any reliable employee who can be trained—is extremely difficult. Some restaurateurs, overwhelmed by labor shortages and operational hurdles, feel as though they have lost control of their customer experience. After all, what busy restaurant owner or manager has the time, when they are carrying out several tasks at once (managing limited staff, cooking, serving, cleaning, accounting, you name it)?
Here are our top tips on how you can improve your restaurant’s customer experience without adding extra work to your already stressed-out employees.
1. Configure your restaurant’s capacity to handle peak periods
If you constantly experience rush hours during certain times of the day or if you are constantly struggling with employees not showing up at specific hours or on certain days, it may be wise to limit on-premise reservations during those periods. Thinking of shutting down all online orders? Keep your direct online ordering available and shut down third-party delivery apps.
2. Efficiently manage your online sales channels
A major cause of customer dissatisfaction is wait time. With your online sales channels, set your prep times so that customers know when their meals will be ready. This goes a long way to managing expectations and having to handle impatient people wondering where their food is.
3. Reward customers for ordering food during slow periods
Another way to gain more time to serve your customers better is to reward them for eating or ordering food at your restaurant when there are few people. For example, you could offer 15% off of their bills if they order by 4 p.m. Give them freebies or extra rewards points if they make a purchase on a slower day, like a Tuesday.
4. Encourage customers to order online or use other self-serve options
On-premise dining and phone ordering can take a toll on your front-of-the-house staff. Inciting customers to opt for take-out, delivery or curbside pick-up through an online ordering platform that sends orders directly to your POS and kitchen can help save time. Enable contactless self-ordering and payments at your tables so that waiters can dedicate more time to delighting and upselling to guests—not repeating menu items or processing payments.
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5. Automate other labor-intensive order-intake tasks
Understandably, restaurant customers hate order inaccuracy. Taking phone calls for takeout and delivery orders can be extremely labor-intensive. The risk of human error is high. It is also high when you have to approve and manually enter online orders from third-party delivery apps into your POS.
Did you know that there are solutions, like UEAT HUB, which act like aggregators to automatically capture online orders from all your sales channels and send them directly to both your POS and kitchen? UEAT HUB not only reduces errors but allows staff to focus on what is the most important: your guests.
6. Charge a refundable booking fee for no-shows
An increasing number of restaurateurs are charging booking fees for reservations. If guests show up on time for their dining room reservations, the fee is refunded or applied to guest bills. If they don’t show up within a clear timeframe, restaurateurs can offer the reservations to other guests, limiting any disappointment.
7. Never forget to manage your online presence on Google
Too often, busy restaurateurs don’t take the time to update their Google My Business profiles. Others don’t use Order With Google and/or link their storefronts from third-party delivery apps to their Google My Business profiles, rather than their own online ordering platforms. This causes several problems. For one, they are basically giving up the ownership of their Google presence—if they even have one—to third parties.
Second, without constantly monitoring their Google Reviews, restaurateurs could be missing out on encouraging repeat business with fans who leave fantastic reviews and fixing situations when dissatisfied customers leave negative feedback.
Make sure you consistently manage your Google My Business profile and allow customers to order straight from Google Search and Maps thanks to Order With Google. And don’t forget to ask happy customers to leave reviews on your profile!
8.Get to know your customers better…with data!
Third-party delivery apps are great for bringing new customers to your restaurant. However, keep in mind that these customers are your customers. Unfortunately, these apps keep your customers’ data for themselves so that they can market their business—and your competitors’ offers!
With your own online ordering platform, you can capture your customers’ email addresses in order to send out promotional newsletters and promotional emails. Ask your customers to follow you on social media so that they are always up-to-date on your latest deals. If you haven’t started a loyalty program, now is the time! It is critical, now more than ever, that you preserve your relationships with customers.
You may be thinking: but how can I work on marketing to customers when we are all very busy serving them? Have you ever considered upskilling one of your staff members to take care of it for you? Yes, they may spend some time on this task. Yes, it may mean giving them extra perks. But done properly, some simple and effective marketing can generate impressive results!
We understand: being in the restaurant business today is challenging to say the least. That is why you must rely on partners—not vendors—that can take care of many tech-related solutions we featured in this article. Make sure they have customer success teams and 24/7 support with real (breathing!) humans. With the right tech, you can save time and keep customers coming back for more!