by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Happy customers make for a profitable restaurant. With that in mind, let’s learn more about the importance of good service in a restaurant, as well as which restaurant customer service skills you need to improve.

What Is Customer Service in a Restaurant?

Restaurant customer service refers to all interactions between staff and customers, from greeting them to asking what they thought of the meal.

But what is good customer service in a restaurant? To ensure customers are happy with the entire experience, you need to be helpful, friendly, and open to feedback.

Customers should feel welcomed the moment they set foot in your restaurant, get quick service, a quality meal, and accurate and detailed answers to any questions they might have about the food or services.

The Importance of Customer Service in the Food Industry

To build a restaurant that’s successful long-term, you need to prioritize customer service. The way you treat customers informs the relationship you’re going to have, and whether or not they become regulars.

Satisfied customers will recommend your restaurant and leave positive reviews online. Not to mention that if you go above and beyond with the customer experience, you’ll stand out from the competition.

Nurturing key restaurant customer service skills will help you foster loyalty and increase repeat visits.

10 Must-Have Restaurant Customer Service Skills

To abide by the latest restaurant customer service standards, check out these ten skills all your front-of-house staff should work on.

1. Guest greeting

Customers’ first impression of your restaurant starts with how they’re welcomed. Learning how to greet customers in the restaurant can go a long way to improving their experience. Be friendly and polite, and don’t forget to greet regulars by name.

You can also make small talk with the customers asking whether they’re celebrating a special occasion. This gives you the opportunity not only to congratulate them but also to surprise them with a free glass of champagne or a free dessert.

Small gestures like these will improve customer service in your restaurant without you having to make a huge effort.

Most customers will appreciate a friendly server, but if they don’t want to engage with you, don’t insist or you risk irritating them.

2. Flexibility

Let’s say a couple walks into the restaurant and you lead them to a center table. They might say they prefer a booth for more privacy. Do your best to accommodate their request.

The same goes for people wanting to split the check among the entire party, putting two tables together to sit the entire group, and so on.

As long as the request is reasonable and possible, even if it involves a bit of extra effort on your part, do it to show you’re flexible and care about customer needs and expectations in your restaurant.

To make your job easier, you can enable customers to book a table online, so all you need to do is walk them to their table when they arrive. That way, they can also leave a comment requesting a specific table when they book, making sure they get seated exactly where they want.

customer service restaurant example: allow customers to reserve tables online

Add a Table Reservation button to your restaurant website for FREE Enable table bookings & food pre-orders in minutes

3. Order-taking

Pay close attention when you’re writing down customers’ orders, so as not to risk delivering something they didn’t order.

Alternatively, you can eliminate the risk of human error by allowing customers to place their own orders as soon as they sit down.

How? By scanning a QR code to browse the menu, order, and even pay for their food instantly. Follow these steps to generate your own QR code menu for free:

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Sharped your restaurant customer service skills by informing customers they can order by scanning the code when you walk them to their table. Let them know you’re available if they need any help and have some physical menus at hand for people who still want to order the old-fashioned way.

One of the best examples of good customer service in a restaurant is servers who are knowledgeable about the menu.

If customers have questions about how a dish is cooked, the ingredients, allergens, or what best to pair it with, you need to be prepared.

To ensure your servers can give detailed, useful answers, they need to know the menu inside out. The best way to do that is to have them test all the dishes, so they can accurately describe them.

You should also consider training them in food and beverage pairing techniques so they can go above and beyond when customers are unsure of what wine or beer to choose.

5. Speed of service

Most customers would agree that one of the top customer service skills in restaurants is speed. Nobody likes to wait a long time for the food to arrive, especially if they have a short lunch break.

To improve the speed of service at your restaurant, you can leverage technology such as a table reservation system with a pre-order feature and a digital ordering menu.

This allows customers to order their food in advance when they reserve a table, so the food is waiting for them when they arrive, or simply ordering at the table without having to wait for a server.

6. Upselling

When done properly, upselling can help you elevate your customer service while also increasing the average check.

Train your servers to upsell without being too pushy or salesy. Offer free samples to motivate customers to buy the full dish, suggest premium beverages that go well with the dishes, or suggest desserts to go.

Customers will feel like they’re part of an exclusive group and appreciate your suggestions as long as they don’t look like an obvious cash grab, and they’re genuinely designed to elevate their experience.

7. Loyalty fostering

Good customer service skills in restaurants will motivate people to come back, which is what your main goal should be.

To secure your regulars’ loyalty, remind them now and then of how much you appreciate their patronage by offering exclusive discounts, promotions, or freebies.

You can foster loyalty online too by adding promotions at the top of your online menu that only apply to returning customers, such as those who have already ordered at least 5 times.

10 points of service restaurant: offer promotions to increase the average order value

Increase customer retention by rewarding loyalty Add a promotion for returning customers to your menu now

If you want to learn how to create restaurant promotions like the one above and many more in minutes, watch the video tutorial below:

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8. Checking in

One of the marks of an excellent restaurant is servers who pay attention to their customers and check in regularly to make sure everything is in order and whether they need anything else.

That doesn’t mean hovering over the customers as they eat – this is one of the classic examples of bad service in a restaurant. But don’t disappear either. Be available and attentive with refills, extra utensils, napkins, and so on.

9. Problem-solving

No matter how attentive you are and how much you strive to provide a perfect service, problems in restaurants will arise.

The key to success is to address those problems immediately and not allow them to escalate. Escalation can lead to bad reviews and lost customers, so you don’t want that.

Train your front-of-staff in creative problem-solving, whether that means dealing with food-related or service-related complaints.

For example, if a customer complains that their steak is rare and they wanted medium, apologize, and offer to replace it ASAP. You can even throw in a drink on the house to make up for the mistake.

10. Feedback gathering

Collecting feedback isn’t only a nice thing to do when customers are done with their meals, but it can also help you improve your restaurant by implementing useful comments.

It can be as simple as asking customers if they enjoyed their meal or as complex as bringing a feedback form to the table and asking if they’d be willing to fill it in before they leave.

Final Thoughts

Keep your customers satisfied and your sales high by improving these vital restaurant customer service skills. Provide an excellent experience to your guests and they’ll gush about you to their friends and family, bringing you even more business.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.