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service excellence

1. Do It Right From the Start

While food quality is incredibly important, it is the experience diners have from the minute they walk in the door to the minute they exit that counts. Restaurants should remember to keep the customer’s needs at the forefront of every dining experience. Here are a few tips for accomplishing this:


Speak Appropriately

  • Greet your customers the minute they walk in the door.

  • Introduce yourself.

  • Be respectful.

  • Don’t interrupt.

  • Listen intently and pay attention to what they want.

  • Be thoroughly versed on your menu. Ask questions and repeat their orders to make sure you get it right.


Etiquette Matters

Who do you serve first? If there’s a guest of honor, serve them.

  • Serve and clear food from the customer’s left. If you have to reach in or interrupt, be polite.

  • When serving food, have a system so you know which plates go to which diner. Don’t call out entrées (if possible).

  • Never make diners feel like you want them to leave. The server’s tip is not more important than the diners’ comfort.

  • Don’t make your customers ask for the check. Clear plates, bring the check and process it in a timely manner.


2. Don’t Make Them Wait

If your diners have to wait too long for their first round of drinks, appetizer or meal, it really won’t matter to them that your bartender makes the best rum punch or the chef prepared the best oxtails. Your diner is already irritated and hungry.


You can call this the negative turning point. Remember that it can be hard to win back your disappointed customer. Avoid disappointing them at all costs. Make sure you have enough staff on hand so they never have to wait too long. If your diner orders a meal that takes a bit longer to cook, let them know in advance. Be forthcoming and informative.

You’ve probably heard the term speed of service. You might even have a speed of service goal built into your policies. Speed of service is vital to a good dining experience no matter your restaurant type. Your diners probably have expectations about how long they’ll have to wait. Serving tacos? They’ll expect those quickly. Serving cornish hen? They may mentally grant you extra time to prepare it.

3. Fix Problems Immediately

Your third step in delivering excellent customer service is your finesse at dealing with customer problems and complaints. No matter how hard you try, something is going to go amiss some time or another. Whatever the problem, your goal is to please the customer.


It is vitally important that you deal with problems immediately. Don’t let your customer’s anger linger while waiting to work his way up the management chain. Here are a few tips for dealing with customer problems:

  • Listen intently to their problem without interrupting.

  • Own the mistake. Acknowledge that, yes, there is a problem. Let them know you are very sorry.

  • Stay calm, especially if you don’t agree with your customer.

  • Maintain eye contact and watch your body language. Make sure your body isn’t telling a different story than your words.

  • Ask your customer what they’d like. Try to negotiate a solution that is acceptable to both of you.

  • Always empathize, don’t blame.

  • Apologize again!

  • Solve the problem quickly and without drama.

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