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As a restaurant owner, you’ve spent months perfecting each recipe on your menu. It took you some time to arrange the tables and adjust the lighting to your liking. After a long struggle, you’ve finally selected a fitting playlist for each night of the week. Each one of these efforts is a simple way to improve your restaurant’s experience. 

While you work hard to consistently deliver quality food and an inviting ambience, you’re always trying to determine ways to improve the overall experience your restaurant provides customers. But with so many other tasks you need to attend to, you rarely have the time to sit down and think about it. 

In this article, we’ve pulled together six easy strategies to improve your restaurant’s customer experience. These strategies are simple enough to put in motion today. 

 

The Customer Experience

Your restaurant’s customer experience starts before they step through your front door and continues long after they exit with a full belly. The customer experience can be broken down into three phases

  1. Before the Restaurant Experience: Customers judge your restaurant after reviewing your menu, looking at your site and social media, and reading reviews.
  2. The In-Restaurant Experience: Ambience, cleanliness, food, and service quality are the critical factors affecting this phase.
  3. After the Restaurant Experience: How positive and memorable was your restaurant’s experience, and did you follow up with customers after their trip?

Our strategies will help you enhance your restaurant’s customer experience with these distinct phases in mind. Each phase of the experience presents opportunities to improve customers’ overall feelings about your restaurant.

Before the Restaurant Experience

You need to convince customers to show up at your door. Do this by presenting your whole restaurant experience as desirable, reputable, and easy to book. Attract customers by using the following tactics: 

Own Your Reviews on Maps and Yelp

It’s important to monitor and respond to online reviews on platforms like Yelp or Google Reviews, daily. Doing this demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction. You also get valuable feedback from clients about their experience. It’s a win-win. 

Everyone loves a good review. Whenever you receive one, make sure to always display your gratitude and express your appreciation for it. Potential customers will see that you’re grateful for positive feedback. Being grateful is a quality that will enhance your reputation as a restaurateur who appreciates their clientele. 

Unfortunately, not all reviews are good– even Salt Bae’s Steakhouse has received less-than-stellar reviews. If you get a poor review, address it immediately. Go out of your way to contact the negative reviewer directly and find out what exactly upset them. 

Once you get to the bottom of the issue, offer a discounted or free meal, giving the customer another (highly discounted or free) chance to try your restaurant. In exchange for a good experience, have them rectify their negative comment. Approaching bad reviews in this way will help you transform them into opportunities to redeem yourself and your restaurant, turning skeptical clients into repeat clients.

Position Yourself on Social

Being active on social media is like working out. If you follow a daily routine, you’ll slowly see results. Over time, the results will pay off exponentially, and you’ll earn a solid following while posting heaps of content illustrating your restaurant’s history on a scrollable timeline. Here are some things to post:

  • Pictures of nightly specials before they’re released.
  • Shots of seasonal meals and beverages.
  • Your takeout menu.
  • Shorts of your chefs preparing tonight’s special hours before serving.
  • Videos revealing how to cook simple dishes on your menu.
  • Special event pictures featuring food and wine pairings.
  • Pictures illuminating the ambience during a full house.
  • Shots of regulars reveling in the freedom of a typical Friday night.

It’s important to stay active on social media daily. Remind guests to follow you on Instagram and like your Facebook page. Offer discounts when customers check in to your restaurant on Facebook, post Instagram pictures or TikTok videos of their experiences, or give you solid Yelp or Google reviews.

Ensure Your Site Reflects Your Brand and Works For Your Customers

You should have an aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-navigate website that provides the following:

  • Your menu 
  • Pricing 
  • Your location 
  • Booking info 
  • Hours of operation 
  • Your chefs’ biographies 
  • Your contact details

Update your site whenever you change the menu, onboard a new Sous-chef, or run specials.  

To really enhance your customer experience before customers even walk inside, serve your clientele a ridiculously simple booking system. Use an app builder like Adalo, which requires no coding or technical experience, and create a booking page that links directly to your website and social media. 

When customers arrive on your booking page, they’ll see what time slots are available immediately. Customers will love the ease of booking a table with just a few finger taps.

To further enhance your customer experience, build a takeout system with Adalo. Using Adalo’s intuitive drag-and-drop interface, you can transform your menu into a checklist that allows customers to select the food they want. When they hit the “send” button, your staff will automatically receive their order, and your cooks can begin their art.  

The In-Restaurant Experience

After you’ve succeeded in getting clients to come to your restaurant, you need to do a few things to ensure their actual restaurant experience outshines all the digital promotion and booking app convenience. These next three tactics will show you how to do just that

The Obvious: Cleanliness and Hygiene 

As soon as customers walk through your door, they’ll immediately sense your restaurant’s sights, smells, and ambience. If they spot dirty walls, carpet stains, or get a whiff of a questionable odor, all the work you put in on the previous steps will have been in vain. 

Keep your restaurant clean by sticking to a strict set of cleaning guidelines like the following:

  • Assign servers cleaning duties for the tables they work on.
  • Each night, have a team member vacuum the floor.
  • Create a standard operating procedure (SOP) to thoroughly clean inevitable spills.
  • Don’t forget to assign bathroom cleaning duties.
  • Ensure that the floor manager on duty approves cleaning jobs
  • In the kitchen, require all cooks to clean their stations before closing. Have the lead cook or Sous-chef sign off on kitchen cleaning efforts.
  • Ensure all food stored in freezers and refrigerators is properly labeled with expiration dates.
  • Conduct a weekly audit of food in the freezers and refrigerators; discard expired food.
  • Dump the garbage cans nightly and whenever they’re full.
  • Once a week, close down the restaurant earlier than other nights. Have the entire staff deep clean the whole restaurant

While each restaurant’s cleaning methods will differ, you’ll need to ensure that you never miss a cleaning day. Being branded as a “dirty” restaurant will catastrophically damage your client experience. 

Require your service staff and kitchen crew to maintain good hygiene while working. Providing your cooks and chefs with clean chef coats daily is a must. Although you’ll have to pay for laundry service, your cooks will always be wearing clean clothes while preparing food.  

When it comes to your restaurant’s ambience, make sure the lights, tables and chairs are functional, and the right music plays at the proper times. Conduct regular checkups of tables, chairs, and other restaurant equipment periodically. 

Guarantee Consistently Delicious Food and Solid Service

While clients may love the convenience, cleanliness, and environment that your restaurant provides, one factor almost reigns supreme: your food’s quality. 

Your ability to serve quality food will play a major role in your restaurant’s success and the overall customer experience. Follow these methods to constantly send your customers delicious dishes:

  1. Use quality ingredients.
  2. Prepare each recipe consistently, never deviating from the directions. 
  3. Always train new cooks to a set standard, striving for consistency. 
  4. Have proper communication in the kitchen so everyone knows their job for the day and what must be done urgently.
  5. Ensure that servers are properly informed about the dishes on the menu and the ingredients that go into them.

Before food goes out to customers, have a Sous-chef or experienced floor manager inspect each plate as a last line of defense. Known as “expeditors,” these staff have the expertise to snuff out imperfections that could diminish your food’s quality. They’ll all but guarantee that every dish heading to the tables accurately represents your restaurant. 

Hire your servers and other floor staff carefully. Each server needs to demonstrate a superior ability to deal with people, possess above-average patience, and always display a positive mental attitude. Servers who possess these skills will meet the (sometimes incredibly demanding) needs of certain customers, which will enhance their dining experience.  

Create a Loyalty App for Your Customers to Download

Use Adalo, the previously mentioned app builder that requires no technical knowledge or know-how, to build a loyalty program app. Allow your app to reward loyal customers by giving them early access to booking tables for special events at your restaurant, like live performances or holiday parties. 

Any app you build with Adalo can be made available for download in the Apple iOS App Store, the Google Play Store, or from your site. Your clients won’t have any issues downloading your app, and your tables will get booked in no time. 

Customers can use your Adalo-made app to make in-restaurant orders directly from the menu without flagging down their server. A feature like this will make your customers very happy, and it might even make some customer loyal regulars. 

The Post Restaurant Experience

Servers should remind customers to follow your restaurant on social media and download the app after settling their bills. If your restaurant runs a special later on in the week, ensure that the servers inform the customers of it. You want to get customers to return to your restaurant as soon and as often as possible. Your main goal is to make each customer a regular.     

Improving your restaurant’s client experience requires a multipronged effort, a strong team, and a little bit of help from some tech. Remember, persistence is key - Jamie Oliver didn’t build his restaurant chain overnight– but if you persist, chances are you’ll start seeing more customers flock to your restaurant soon!