Published April 27, 2022
Everyone has their favorite spot where they love to grab a slice. Maybe it’s Delancey in Seattle, Emily in Brooklyn, or even Side Pie in LA. With over 75,000 pizza spots dotted across the U.S., as customers, there’s something about our favorites that keep us comin’ back for more.
For business owners, repeat customers are a goldmine. You’ve heard it a million times before: it’s cheaper to keep your current customer base and get them to make repeat purchases rather than spending money to get brand new bodies through the door.
In the food service and restaurant industries, customer retention is key to sustainable growth and revenue. But how do you get people to return? Yes, food quality and consistency are important, and customer loyalty schemes play their part, but exceptional customer service and a delightful customer experience are crucial to repeat business.
Providing a next-level customer experience starts with your back-of-house operation.Ensure that the logistics of getting food from a distributor to the fridge, to the prep station, onto the plate, and out for service is seamless and as stress-free as you can. A calm kitchen will reflect on the front-of-house staff and impact the customer experience.
You’ll also need to ensure that your business is always fully operational from a tech perspective. For example, using systems and POS with minimal downtime.
According to Harvard Business Review, happy employees equate to happy customers, and their research found that this is especially true in the food service industry. For business owners, this means that you need your employees to feel valued and appreciated. Here are a few strategies you can use to help make this happen.
Go for a one-on-one coffee with all of your employees and get to know them on amore personal level. People love to be heard, so ask for feedback about what it’s truly like to work in your business and be open to what they share.
Treat every employee as an equal. From the busboy to the head chef, all employees are part of the same team, so treat them with the same levels of respect.
Employee of the month is outdated, but the idea of rewarding hard work can go a long way to keep morale high and motivate employees. Simple tokens of appreciation could include gift certificates, experiences, or organizing an off-site group outing paid for by the business.
By focusing on what goes on behind the scenes, you’re creating a positive environment for customers to step into, which will go a long way in promoting retention and repeat business.
Consistent and clear communication is needed from all team members to ensure a good experience for the customer.
● Hold regular team meetings.
● Ask for feedback.
● Provide training for FOH and BOH employees on what clear and empathetic communication looks like.
● Set an example: communicate the way with the team you would like others to.
● Greet all customers and acknowledge their presence.
● Remember customer names.
● Listen when customers speak.
● Show compassion, honesty, and empathy.
● Be polite.
● Offer any help or assistance where needed.
● Speak clearly and project your voice.
Communication doesn’t always mean language and words. Non-verbal communication includes tone of voice, eye contact, body positioning, and body movement. So think about how you and your employees communicate with your whole body, not just the words you say.
We order an item on Prime, and it’s delivered the same day. We order a bite on DoorDash, and it arrives in 20 minutes.Everything we want and need is accessible “on-demand,” and now consumers expect this type of ultra-fast service in every aspect of their lives. Businesses need to keep up with this customer expectation to retain their customers and create brand loyalists.
Just like nobody puts Baby in the corner, nobody likes waiting for pizza. So if your customers have to hang around for too long to order their first round of drinks, get the ‘za, or receive their bill, they’re not going to be happy about it–especially in a place where the expectation
Ensure that you provide fast, friendly service to customers in your pizza establishment. For example, bringing in tools to help with prepping food can help to speed up the process of getting food out and ease bottlenecks in the kitchen.
Changing the mind of a disgruntled customer is a hefty challenge, so make sure that you set expectations when a customer walks through the door. For example, if there’s a 30-minute wait for a table, say so. Don’t leave anything up to the customer’s imagination and go with the mantra of “under-promise and over-deliver” to generate consumer delight.
Automation improves efficiency, so invest in tools that speed up the customer experience.
No, we’re not suggesting you partner with a food-delivery company. But opening up a channel for your customers to pre-order and dine in or takeout on your website is a simple way to make your business more accessible and improve customer experience.
Suppose you’re a busy establishment finding that you’re regularly turning customers away due to limited seating. In that case, it might be time to invest in an online booking or reservation system to help handle some of the customer expectations.
Automating parts of your food production system will free up employees to focus on the customer and other areas of the business. For example, the Picnic Pizza Station automates food prep and gives you an opportunity to save money by ensuring accurate portion sizes and minimizing food waste.
You can’t please everyone all the time, and sometimes, things simply don’t workout. For example, you’re a busboy down, the chef’s argued with the sous, and you’ve run out of bell peppers. Naturally, customers will complain, but how you handle the complaint will help retain a customer.
● Respond ASAP. Don’t drag your heels on dealing with a customer complaint. Instead, respond to any complaint or issue pronto to help deescalate the situation as soon as you can.
● Listen. Give the customer your undivided attention and space to air their grievances.
● Ask the right questions. Dig deep to find out what the situation is and what the customer is unhappy with. Questions such as “what do you mean by…” and “can you tell me more about…” are good starting points to uncover insights.
● Don’t make excuses. Acknowledge and take responsibility for the situation. Now is not the time to make excuses.
● Communicate next steps. Once you’ve settled on an outcome, communicate this to all parties involved and explain the steps you’ll take to ensure the situation won’t happen again.
It’s not easy being an entrepreneur, but a small amount of attention to the customer experience will help you to retain your consumers, drive repeat business, and help you to build a sustainable, long-term business.