Providing Quality Services in Restaurants
Restaurants and hotel businesses are sensitive, as they highly depend on the referrals of their customers. Satisfaction of customers depends on the way customers perceive quality of food, justifiable pricing, as well as highest-level services. Consequentially, restaurants and hotels, in general, have the responsibility of creating a memorable guest experience that warrants the referral. The bottom-line is that a good customer experience is solely tied to quality of customer service (Claver, Tari, & Pereira, 2006).
Restaurants and Customer Involvement
Restaurants engage customers by employing capable staff. Customer experience begins right at the entrance to the hotel (Lamb, Hair, & McDaniel, 2008). At the entrance, a customer meets the valet, who helps with parking and bringing the car when a customer is leaving. The next phase involves a host who meets a customer, welcomes his/her to the table, and offers them menu before the service comes to enquire what the customer will order. All these elements of service need to work together for the customers’ ultimate experience. To that end, restaurants ensure that their service staffs, including the valet, host, and wait staff are well presented and professional in their approach. In that light, the menus must be colorful to cognitively appeal to the customer. Additionally, the wait staff must be well groomed to present a good picture of a restaurant in terms of cleanliness and hygiene.
Unwritten Service Standards
While there are no specific service guidelines for the hospitality industry, there are salient unwritten practices within the industry that guarantee quality service delivery for the guests. Such practices form the basic tenets of service delivery within the hospitality industry and are imperative for successful restaurant or hotel operations. As such, they form the basic standards that must be adhered and employed in service delivery. Such practices are discussed here under.
From the onset of engaging with the customer, the service staff must engage the customer using a professional tone (Reid & Bojanic, 2010). This standard does not apply to the waiters and hosts only, but to every employee who engages with a customer. For instance, if it is a hotel offering bus services, a bus driver should act professionally when communicating with customers. Engaging the customers professionally makes customers feel at ease and perceive that the service staffs are capable of addressing their needs. In the case of restaurants, the staff must be professional in every aspect, such as understanding the menu items. For instance, if it is wine suggestion, the wait staff or the host must be aware of the manufacture date, best occasion for the wine, and where such wine was made, as well as age of wine. This creates an impression that the staff knows their products, as well as understands customer needs. A professional menu suggestion enables the customer to consider thoughtfully other items they would have otherwise disregarded.
Restaurants or hotel visitors are usually on a tight schedule. Visitors to a restaurant only visit to have meals, meaning they may have little time. This has two implications; first, the customers are hungry. Second, the customers want to be served as soon as they set foot in the premises. The longer the customer waits to be served, the worse the experience at the restaurant or hotel is. Similarly, once the customers are done with their meal or stay, they want to get their check and leave as soon as possible. Consequently, it is ideal for a hotel and restaurant services to attend to the customer’s needs promptly (Reid & Bojanic, 2010). Hotels and restaurants achieve this milestone by employing enough staff and training them on timely service delivery.
The ‘Wow’ Element in Service Standards
Sometimes promptness can be a challenge, especially when the hotel is experiencing a surge in customer traffic. This becomes even tougher if the restaurant does not take reservations. To incorporate a ‘wow’ effect in the promptness standard, the restaurant should keep the customer entertained. Entertaining the customer, while he/she waits for an order will make him/her feel that the trouble of going to the restaurant was worth the wait. There are a few ways compensating for the lack in promptness when the restaurant is faced with high traffic. For instance, restaurants can offer customers food that is cooked fast. Another way is introducing a messaging system, where customers do not have to wait in the premises but register upfront and are notified when a table is ready. This takes the idea of promptness to a new whole level because customers wait wherever they want to, not necessarily within the hotel.
When it comes to professionalism, there are multiple ways to incorporate the ‘wow’ factor. For instance, the wait staff can be asked to be observant and take note of routine customers. This way it becomes easier to mark what they delight in. In that light, new menu items can be created using the tastes and preferences of such customers. Whenever the wait staff sees a customer they are familiar with, the wait staff can introduce new items, specifically tailored for such customers. The organization can also go ahead to prepare special meals for customers’ special events, such as birthdays and other special occasions. This action invites the customer to be a part of community and they will always identify with the restaurant for personalizing their dining experience. Additionally, this will make the customer feel honored and show that the restaurant does really esteem them. Another way of including the ‘wow’ factor into professionalism is letting customers mingle freely with the staff, such as the chef. During such mingling, customers can ask the chef questions about recipes or make their suggestions. Better still, the restaurant can introduce gaming, where customers are prompted to make drink mix suggestions, and the winning suggestions carry rewards, such as a free party and recognition on the restaurants board and social media. This creates an opportunity for the customer who wins to pass the word to the community through their social or word of mouth. Consequently, more customers will come in, searching for the ‘wow’ factor. This way, the organization can create a base of loyal customers that always expect the organization to deliver beyond their anticipation.
Going About It
Implementing the ‘wow’ factor is not easy, as different customers have different tastes and preferences. In that light, it is paramount for a restaurant’s management to appreciate the notion that service delivery involves, in line with customer behavior. As such, restaurants must keep researching, while, at the same time, applying best practice to ‘wow’ the customers. Applying best practice insulates the restaurant against wasting time and resources. Some of the restaurants that have elaborate ‘wow’ effects are Jake and Jake’s Grill of Portland Oregon. Jake and Jake’s create special menus for birthdays. These menus carry the names of customers celebrating their birthday. As a result, the menu is specialized. Additionally, everyone in the restaurant gets to recognize the customer’s special day. This makes every customer envy the experience and some may keep coming until it is their turn for personalized menus.
Technology and Restaurants
Marketing is the primary approach in awareness creation (Lamb et al., 2008). In the modern business environment, information systems are diverse and far-reaching. Additionally, incorporating information system into services of a business ensures quality service delivery. In addition, it also fosters good relationship between the customer and business, thus enhancing marketing activities.
To keep the customers well informed, the first step would be to have a good website. Such website should carry adequate information about services that may attract customer’s interest. The website should also inform customers of special dining events at the restaurant premises. Additionally, the industry can also take to the social media, which has become central to the lives of many people. On the social media, the restaurants can engage with consumers by asking them to propose special events, as well as meals they would like to see on the menus. Messaging services, such as email, or short messages, would also be a good method of informing consumers. These services can be used to make customer feel that the organization cares about them. It also becomes a way of informing customers of any new developments, e.g. change of menu items, overhaul of services and even relocation. Consequentially, the customer will know beforehand the changes to expect. For instance, such information will save the customer from shock of getting out of the house to go to their favorite restaurant for dinner only to find it is gone. Interactive menu systems that offer suggestions are also new ways the organization can inform customers, thereby creating a positive dining experience. With adequate information, customers make decisions that maximize the outcome. Consequentially, customers will be able to perceive quality in service delivery. Nevertheless, restaurants must ensure effective communication is at the center of it all because it affects the quality of information and the interaction of customers with the information (Lamb et al., 2008).
The hospitality industry remains a crucial part of social construct. The industry offers a product that enhances peoples’ lives. Additionally, customer loyalty within the industry depends on customer satisfaction. This calls for integration of services and products to appeal to the cognitive and consumption habits of consumers. This is only achievable through delivery of quality service. Quality involves the manner in which customer gauges the entire dining or guest experience at a hotel or restaurant. Employees in the restaurant and hotel businesses must, therefore, work diligently to incorporate professionalism that results to quality. This means that customers must be served promptly, entertained, and adequately informed.
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