Have you ever heard the saying “The restaurant business would be great, if it weren’t for the customers”? This is the sarcastic battle cry of those who are having a rough day. The reality is the restaurant business is a people business and there is no point without the customers. Customers are not always great to deal with and can often have less than constructive criticism. Still, running a better restaurant means having better customer service and a happy customer is much more likely to return.
A search of the internet for restaurant customer complaints or even things customers would like to see improved at their favorite restaurants can return some ugly results. There is a lot of criticism on the internet. Amongst all that noise, here are some legitimate constructive thoughts. Let’s take a look at 6 things customers wish restaurants would change.
The restaurant business is a service business. The number one thing which turns customers off is a rude server or hostess. Make sure your hostess is always cool and courteous, even if they are dealing with too many people or being frustrated by a discourteous customer. Servers are typically better because they are trying to work a tip. It can be difficult to keep your staff and even yourself in a positive frame of mind all the time, but you always must try. Customers can be forgiving of slow service or even mistakes, but a bad attitude can turn a loyal customer away for good.
Customers are really frustrated with coupons which are only good during a specific time. If you don’t want to deal with coupons, don’t offer them. If you do offer them, let people use them. Often times customers don’t read the whole coupon, which is their own fault, but it hurts their experience, when they realize they are dining on a Friday and their coupon was only good Monday through Wednesday. If someone in your restaurant has a coupon, then the coupon is working. They saw the coupon and consciously took the action of saving and going to your restaurant. That is a victory. Don’t ruin it by denying them a small discount during prime time.
Nearly every customer has a complaint about a menu somewhere. Some are quite absurd. The most legitimate is menu print. The menu print should be large enough people with poor vision can read it. A lot of people don’t have trouble reading anything anywhere, but when they go to certain restaurants the combination of low lighting and small menu print makes them feel like their Great Grand Mother. People don’t want to feel old or be embarrassed because they can’t read the print at a restaurant. Make sure the menu print is large and clear.
Another thing customers want restaurants to change about their menus is to have better descriptions of the items. A clear concise description of the menu items will create less questions, help customers to decide faster, and make it more likely customers will be satisfied with their choice. All good things.
There is a special place in heaven for restaurant operators who keep the cleanest restrooms. A dirty restroom can ruin an otherwise spectacular dining experience. The cleanliness of a restroom is reflective of the cleanliness of your kitchen. Customers don’t walk through your kitchen to see how clean it is or isn’t. They do see your restrooms and dirty restrooms cost some restaurants a lot of money in lost business every day.
Make sure your specials are easily seen and widely advertised. It is very frustrating to a customer to see someone at another table eating a special they would have liked, but they didn’t even know it was available. It is also frustrating for customers to look through the menu and make a decision, only to find out the specials from the server when they come to take their order.
For a variety of reasons there are more and more customers looking for plant-based dining options. They find it frustrating when the only vegetarian options are salads. Its even worse if the salads are all covered in cheese and meat. Even a steak house should have at least two vegetarian options on its menu.