6 Things You Can Do to Improve Customer Experience in Your Small Restaurant

Improve Customer Experience in Your Small Restaurant

Between the rise of delivery apps and the blossoming of home-based food businesses, the Philippine food service industry has seen a lot of changes over the past several years. One thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of delivering a great customer experience. If anything, Filipino food lovers have come to expect more out of a sit-down meal at a restaurant, with many viewing it as more of a special experience compared to the now-ubiquitous takeout and food delivery options.

Smaller restaurant operations are finding themselves increasingly challenged to meet these rising expectations. Beyond serving delicious food, these small business owners now have to renew their focus on the other areas of the sit-down dining experience that contribute to customer satisfaction.

If you’re interested in positively shaping your diners’ experiences, here are eight actionable strategies that should help your restaurant compete in the new food service environment:

Provide Comfortable Dining and Waiting Areas

Creating a comfortable atmosphere should be a priority if you want to provide diners with consistently positive dining experiences. If your restaurant offers open-air dining, provide fans and sufficient shade to keep diners cool in the Philippines’ humid tropical environment. A split type aircon is also a must-have if your establishment offers indoor seating; it can even be a major draw for customers during hotter months. Be sure to also consider the ambient noise levels, lighting, and decor, and make sure that these don’t interfere with your diners’ comfort.

Give Customers More Ways to Pay

While cash remains king in the Philippines, alternative payment methods like digital wallets and credit cards are fast gaining popularity among most diners. More than ever, facilitating customer happiness means catering to this new expectation.

Fortunately, digital payment acceptance technologies are now well within reach of all restaurant operators. Providing a transparent digital payment process at your store should not only help you cater to more diners’ preferences, however; it should also speed up payments processing, reducing wait times and further contributing to customer satisfaction at your restaurant.

Keep Your Menu Tight and On-Brand

Some restaurateurs believe that extensive menus will allow them to cater to more preferences. While this can be true in some situations, the trade-offs are rarely worth the benefits. In reality, bloated menus can delay customer orders, create confusion, and keep your chefs from mastering your menu items. Collectively, these effects can be disastrous for your restaurant’s customer satisfaction.

Resist the temptation to add menu items and instead focus on the signature dishes that truly represent your brand. A well-curated menu will do wonders for speeding up customer decisions, while also reinforcing your restaurant’s identity in a food service market that’s now filled to the brim with options.

Prioritize Staff Training and Development 

While you can provide a good foundation for customer service by developing comfortable interiors and streamlined processes, much of the heavy lifting still falls on your restaurant staff. If they’re poorly trained, they will be ill-equipped to handle the increasingly complex demands of modern dining, leaving your establishment behind its competition.

With that in mind, recognize that the success of your restaurant hinges on both the creations emerging from the kitchen and the experiences crafted by your front-line staff. As your market evolves, make an effort to develop and motivate your staff so that they’re able to evolve alongside it. 

Take Your Business Online

These days, customers are most likely to discover your restaurant through search engines and social media. What’s more, your online presence can directly shape their expectations even before they make it through your front door.

To keep up with this current reality, make sure that your online marketing strategy is up to par. With a more proactive approach, you should be able to draw in more customers and at the same time give them a more accurate idea of what to expect from their dining experience.

Set Up a Loyalty Program

Given that most people crave variety, getting satisfied customers to return in a restaurant landscape that is saturated with great choices can still be a challenge. In many cases, however, you can nudge customers towards making repeat visits by offering them privileges through an exclusive loyalty program.

When properly managed, loyalty programs can create a real sense of appreciation for your diners, strengthening their emotional bond to your establishment. If you’re able to consistently maintain high service levels through your customers’ subsequent visits, these programs may even convert some of them into valuable advocates for your establishment.

Looking Beyond the Plate

A harsh truth about the restaurant business is that there is no shortage of establishments that offer delicious food. Most often, the thing that turns first-time diners into loyal customers is not the food but the quality of the experiences you offer.

The strategies above are not exactly groundbreaking. When it comes down to it, they’re all about understanding what it is that diners today value and moving towards meeting those expectations. Broadly and consistently applying that principle, your restaurant can and will exceed the rising expectations of Filipino food enthusiasts everywhere.