From Mediterranean to Mediocre: how a restaurant bellyflopped

The restaurant business is an unforgiving business. Success rates are low, competition is fierce, and reputation is everything. But, you can take measures to ensure that your restaurant — or any other type of business, really — doesn’t bellyflop because of bad customer service.

In the restaurant business, the three keys to success are price, quality of food, and service. In my video, Lost Revenues for Restaurants Due to Customer Dissatisfaction, I’ll focus on service. I’ll teach you how to detect early signs of customer dissatisfaction, so you can make the necessary adjustments to your overall business plan to ensure loyalty, profitability, and longevity. And I’ll discuss my favorite Mediterranean restaurant to drive home key message points.

Strategies that Turn It Around!

  1. Train your staff to detect dissatisfaction. No one knows better than your wait staff whether your clients are happy or dissatisfied when they walk out the door. Your staff is your frontline defense, so you need to train them to notice certain clues. Body language is a good way to know if someone is dissatisfied. Even though a person can say everything is just fine, crossed arms, a raised eyebrow, and even a stern tone of voice are great clues that something is wrong. So, if your staff people know what to look for, they can turn around a bad situation into a great experience. You can also train your staff to ask the right questions. Open-ended questions, for example, are great for finding out details. An open-ended question is one that allows your customers to talk openly and freely about their experiences. A closed-ended question, on the other hand, doesn’t invite such open discussions. Consider the following two sentences: “What did you think of your meal?” vs “That was a great meal, wasn’t it?” The first question opens the door for your customer to talk honestly about her experience. The second question simply asks for agreement, nothing else.
  2. Survey your customers about their experiences. You have many options on hand to collect feedback from your customers. You can have a short survey delivered with the check, collect emails for more formal surveys, make phone calls to customers, and conduct focus groups comprised of your VIP clients. You can use one method or a combination of methods to gauge how satisfied or dissatisfied your customers really are. Your ultimate goal is to know well ahead of time if you have any problems well before a long-standing problem is staring you in the face. You want to be able to implement change while doing so is still feasible and can still make a difference.

Remember: Customer dissatisfaction can give you clues early on in the game about your business. Ensuring that you can recognize these clues to fix problems will help you to sustain a healthy and profitable business that’s here today, tomorrow, and well into the future.

How have you leveraged customer dissatisfaction to ensure better service and sustained profits? Please share your experiences in the Comments section below. I look forward to engaging with you and your comments.

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