Improve customer satisfaction at your restaurant

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Restaurants are reliant on customers to be successful. But with so much competition out there from other restaurants and home dining, it can be tough to draw in the customers you want all the time. In addition to great food and atmosphere, a pleasant experience with the restaurant staff is critical for diners. By focusing on improving customer satisfaction, restaurant owners, operators and employees can create repeat customers and help improve the establishment's reputation. 

With apps and websites like Yelp, Twitter and Google, customer service has never been more critical to the success of a restaurant. Whether you're operating an independent eatery or a local branch of a national chain, many customers pull out their mobile devices to check on reviews before heading inside for a meal. The best way to get good online ratings, create word of mouth buzz and retain the business you already have is by continually improving your customers' experience. Here are a few tips that can help you upgrade customer satisfaction at your establishment. 

Actively listen 
Customer feedback is a great tool for improving any restaurant. Although you likely won't change your menu to suit every customer's favorite foods, you can learn a lot from their input. The U.S. Small Business Administration offered restaurants advice, saying that listening should start with everyday interactions. 

"Show you're listening to your customers by taking notes or repeating back what your customer has said," the SBA wrote on its blog. "Listen to their words and tone. Observe their body language. Provide them clear and concise communication. Ask clarifying questions to gain understanding before you provide a response. If you can't respond immediately, be sure to provide a timeline for response and make a note in your calendar to do so. Follow up, confirm the resolution and check for customer satisfaction and completion."

Additionally you should be asking for and reading customer feedback on a wider scale. Whether it's online reviews or post-meal conversation, customer feedback can give you some frank points to improve upon. After listening and hearing the advice, it's time to work toward achieving the goals that customers are looking for. Whether it's something small or large, flexibility and communication with your staff can help. 

Be friendly 
One of the simplest ways to improve your customers' satisfaction is to be friendly. Business consultant Kristina Evey advised restaurant mangers to encourage their employees to smile, use customers' names when addressing them and pay close attention. Keeping an eye on customers can mean getting them that refill before they get thirsty, checking on food throughout the meal and having the check ready when the guests are. People don't like waiting, so the more that servers and other employees can anticipate, the more satisfied customers will be. 

Be professional 
Although friendliness is appreciated by most customers, professionalism is still important. Make sure your employees act and look a way that represents the business well. The Houston Chronicle reminded employees that their actions and appearances are reflecting the business to customers. Sometimes, reminding employees of this fact can be enough to help them keep up their appearance. Employees' uniforms should be wrinkle-free, tidy and matching from their stylish nonslip work shoes to their aprons. 

Deliver beyond advertised 
When customers enter a restaurant, whether a fast food chain or a sit-down establishment, they're carrying certain expectations. The best way to improve customer satisfaction is to understand those expectations, meet them then exceed them. By meeting expectations through customer service, food quality and facility atmosphere, you can make your customer satisfied. But by going the extra mile with rewards programs and above-and-beyond service, you can bring your customers from satisfied to happy with their experience.

Brought to you by Shoes For Crews, the trusted leader in safety footwear to food service employees for more than 30 years.

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