For today’s modern restaurant patron, expectations are at an all-new high when it comes to engaging and unique experiences. We’ve entered an age where aesthetic reigns king and competition is at its highest, yet guests still feel like their expectations aren’t being surpassed.
According to a Harvard Business Review report, 84% of customers claim their expectations are not being exceeded. With customers dictating the ultimate success of businesses, this is detrimental and makes it more crucial than ever for restaurants to go above and beyond the traditional guest transaction.
In the article, we’re helping you surpass ordinary transactions by providing 3 simple yet effective methods to engage your guests.
Over the years, personalization has evolved into a common business tactic that has aided numerous industries in enhancing the guest experience. With its rapid adoption rates, personalization has now become a guest expectation with Statista reporting a monstrous “90 percent of adult consumers in the U.S. preferring personalized content.”
For those new to the term personalization, according to Cambridge Dictionary, it “is the process of making something suitable for the needs of a particular person”. It means obtaining knowledge on the guest and using it to tailor messaging and experiences to build a more personal connection with the guest. For restaurants, this is typically done through on-site or post-visit guest surveys. With survey data, restaurateurs can reach out or converse in a way that resonates better with the guest and prompts a positive response. This builds stronger connections while dining and can help restaurants follow up flawlessly.
In order to exceed guest expectations with personalization, we highly recommend integrating a Customer Experience Management or CEM solution. With a CEM solution, you can receive feedback in-moment and see guest sentiment as they converse with you – so you can tailor experiences in the moment. What’s more, an ideal CEM will also enable you to take detailed notes about the guest to elevate future visits. For example, if a restaurant guest comes in every Friday and consistently orders a 9oz glass of Merlot with their meal, you can make a note in your CEM platform so the next time they visit, their server can know to make a wine suggestion. Although it may seem like a small suggestion, knowing their preferences will make a big impact on the guest.
Empower Team Members
Your servers, hostesses, and bartenders are the faces of your business. They interact directly with guests and are the ones that leave that lasting impression – so it’s crucial that teams are trained and empowered every day to elevate the guest experience.
As a part of good management, you should be walking your restaurant team through the steps they need to take in order to go the extra mile. Holding daily, weekly, or monthly meetings to set expectations and proposed goals will help give your team an idea of what they are working towards in addition to coming up with creative ways to elevate the experience.
With a CEM solution, you can empower your teams further by providing them with real-time feedback on their service. Guests can provide feedback on an on-site kiosk or via their mobile device which will then be displayed on a scoreboard at the back of house. If your team members have an end of day goal they have to meet and realize that the scoreboard isn’t matching up to where they need to be, they’ll make the effort to go above and beyond.
It’s also important to note that empowering and engaging team members can help in more way than simply elevating the experience. In fact, according to a Gallup study, “engaged teams have lower turnover, 21% greater profitability, 17% higher productivity and 10% higher customer ratings than disengaged teams.” From improving service for guests to reducing costly employee churn, it makes the entire brand experience more powerful and uplifting.
Meet Demands In-The-Moment
For the modern-day restaurant patron, fast and engaging service is an expectation. To stay ahead of the curve and go beyond the traditional transaction, you then need to be reacting and engaging in-the-moment.
Whether a guest is placing an order online, sending you a Facebook message about hours of operation, or asking for a beverage refill in person, it’s critical that you acknowledge and respond to all guest inquiries immediately. The shorter the wait time, the more impressed and happier the guest will be.
In order to fulfill these in-the-moment needs, we highly suggest adopting a Customer Experience Management solution with omni-channel capabilities. With a CEM you can have all inbound messages from guests, regardless of channel, routed to one unified inbox. Team members can be notified in-the-moment and respond at their earliest convenience. Not to mention, having omni-channel capabilities also means that your guests can then reach out to you on their preferred channel – increasing their likelihood of engagement.
For today’s guest, a simple transactional experience won’t keep your restaurant top of mind – in fact, it could hinder your position as a leader in the industry. With the guest in mind, it’s important to go above and beyond by personalizing simple interactions, empowering employees to provide exceptional service and meeting in-the-moment requests. By following these three tactics, you’re well on your way to consistently exceeding guest expectations.