When customers walk into a restaurant, whether it is McDonald’s or Chez Pierre, they expect to be acknowledged. This is a small service, but it is imperative to the success of the restaurant, as customers who are not greeted may simply walk out and eat somewhere else. The type of host a restaurant has will depend on the type of restaurant it is as well as how busy it is. Some restaurants pay hosts to greet customers, call names off waiting lists and walk customers to their tables. In other restaurants, management and wait staff take over this duty. Regardless of what you can afford for your restaurant, always make sure someone has the responsibility of greeting the guests and that person knows it is her responsibility.
When customers go to a restaurant, they expect a good wait staff, unless they are dining at a fast-food chain. Even then, customers expect the counter workers to get their orders right in an appropriate amount of time and solve problems quickly and courteously. In traditional, sit-down restaurants, customers expect the wait staff to be attentive, but not too attentive. Wait staff should not hover or interrupt, but they also should come back frequently enough to attend to their customers’ needs. In addition, they should bring food in a timely manner and handle problems, such as food that has been sent back pleasantly. Customers also expect wait staff to be friendly and personable.
Customers usually go to restaurants to meet with others socially in a friendly environment. Although environment is not usually considered a service, service plays a large role in creating a good environment. In addition to making sure the restaurant is clean, attractive and the decor is consistent with the food and restaurant’s image, restaurant owners need to tell their staff it’s OK to let guests linger. Wait staff should not hint that it is time for the guests to go. For example, they should not rush the food to the table unless the customer requests it. They also should not start to clean nearby tables in an obvious manner or wait for customers to get out their money to pay the check. To the contrary, wait staff should say things like, “Feel free to chat as long as you like — let me know if you’ll need some dessert or a drink refill.”
Food and Drink
Probably the most important service that a customer expects to receive when dining out is a good selection of delicious and well-presented food. According to London wine writer Jamie Goode, it is more important that food be simple and good tasting, made with quality ingredients, than to be fancy or pretentious. Goode also notes that customers expect a large wine selection that is not overpriced. Furthermore, customers expect food to be consistent with the image of the restaurant. Customers who are dining at a family restaurant, for example, expect sandwiches, traditional dinners and moderate prices. At a more elegant restaurant, prices can be higher but food needs to be more of the gourmet variety.