How To Improve Customer Experience In The Age Of COVID-19 | Modern restaurant management
It’s easy for restaurant experiences to be impersonal and mundane right now, with face masks and on-the-go containers dictating the nature of the meals. With such a focus on health and safety, other details and levels of service are naturally put on the back burner. This presents an opportunity for restaurant operations to set themselves apart by improving the customer experience in the COVID-19 era, giving consumers a sense of exceptional service and memorable experiences they used to source from. from restaurants. While customer and staff safety is to remain the top priority, there are a few strategic ways that operators can improve their service to build loyalty and grow their business now.
Improve your on-the-go experience
The area of restaurant operations with the most room for improvement is take-out and delivery. There has been a massive surge in these markets over the past year due to widespread restaurant closures and restrictions. And while it’s impressive how many companies have pivoted to offer these services, sometimes they are executed with less care than for the restaurant service.
Restaurants can set themselves apart from customers by making sure they put as much care into delivery as the rest of their business. Delivery always depends on the customer experience and your value proposition. While you cannot control the service provided by third-party companies, you can control the dining experience: the quality of the food, the temperature of the food, the presentation, etc. A poor customer delivery experience is a poor reflection of your brand and can affect not only future delivery orders, but restaurant visits as well. Make sure each customer’s dining experience is the best it can be. Include only those items on your delivery menus that you know will “travel” well. Also, pay attention and consider the customer’s experience when receiving the food – how it is packaged, what containers you use, etc.
With new freedoms granted to restaurants this year, there is another opportunity to increase your take-out offering by providing take-out alcohol; food and wine pairings and take-out cocktails will enhance and differentiate your restaurant’s take-out service.
Restaurants can easily improve the customer experience by differentiating their offerings, atmosphere and more. With so many operational hurdles currently in place, many restaurant businesses follow similar models in terms of what they offer and what it looks like; you can set yourself apart and build your reputation by doing something different.
For example, if you have a patio, you can offer branded blankets to keep your guests comfortable. Entertainment is also an effective way to make any meal special – can you provide games for the guests at their table? Live music? Unique photo opportunities in your space?
Along with fun initiatives focused on entertainment, it’s also essential to make sure everyone feels safe in your surroundings. Considering the different comfort levels of your customers will go a long way in improving their experience and demonstrating your commitment to excellent customer service. Offer a variety of seating options, such as indoor or outdoor tables, larger and smaller tables, and make sure all customers follow your business protocol as much as possible. Due to the pandemic, some diners will be more reluctant than others to return to the restaurant, so having options and regulations is essential to make sure everyone feels safe.
Stay logged in
Finally, stay connected with your customers to keep them up to date and interact with them on a deeper level. Make sure to update your social media channels and website if there are any changes to your hours of operation, menu, capacity, etc., so that customers always have the correct information. With the protocol evolving rapidly and consumers increasingly relying on digital media to gain information and interact with businesses, this is essential for delivering a great customer experience.
You can also engage with your audience on a more personal level. Share photos of menu items to keep people engaged with your brand and keep brand awareness in mind, even if you’re closed. Reposting user-generated content on social channels is also a great way to show that you care about your customers and are engaged with them in person as well as digitally.
Overall, there are many barriers preventing restaurants from providing the same levels of service and experience as pre-COVID. But with a little effort and creativity, your restaurant can stand out by aiming to deliver a 10 out of 10 customer experience, even in the midst of a global pandemic.