Last Updated On July 27, 2020 / Written By Chloe Henderson

How to Improve Customer Satisfaction in Restaurants - 6 Simple Ways

Operating a successful restaurant in a very competitive food industry relies heavily on customer service and satisfaction.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) disclosed that the average American spends half of their food budget on restaurants, investing almost $800 billion in the restaurant industry.

Customers are willing to spend their money on dining out but want a high standard of service; they are looking for an overall positive experience from a restaurant on top of delicious food. Therefore, improved customer satisfaction can result in customer loyalty and increased sales.

In this article, we'll discuss how to improve customer satisfaction in restaurants while simultaneously increasing profits.

Customer Satisfaction Statistics

To increase revenue, restaurants not only need to attract more customers but maintain customer loyalty and satisfaction. Restaurant management should monitor complaints, feedback, and consider the following guest satisfaction statistics-

Online Reviews
In this technological world, customers often rely on online reviews to help them choose where to dine. In the U.S. alone, 94% of diners refer to online restaurant ratings before deciding where to eat. Another study revealed that restaurants could increase their revenue by up to 9% by boosting their Yelp rating up one-star.

A Cintas Corporation survey found that 85% of customers won't even consider visiting a restaurant if they read one negative review regarding their cleanliness. On top of practicing good restaurant hygiene, restaurants that go above and beyond to accommodate their customers receive high satisfaction. Simply offering seating preferences or complimentary extras, such as breadsticks or mints, can increase customer loyalty.

The food industry is continuously innovating restaurant services to satisfy customers' demands. An ASCI report shows that millennials now want new, faster ways to order food. Studies show that restaurants that offer delivery and curbside pickup can increase their sales by up to 75%. Implementing these ordering options also attracts new customers and sustains customer loyalty due to their convenience.

6 Tips for Improving Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction in restaurants directly impacts revenue by determining whether guests want to return. Here are some tips on improving guest satisfaction for restaurant owners-

1. Train employees on customer satisfaction - All restaurant staff should be adequately trained on how to engage with customers and with each other. By holding team-building exercises, managers can ensure the staff members are working together as a team to meet the customers' needs. Implementing these employee training procedures shows employees that they are valued by the business and will reciprocate the gesture to customers.

2. Personalize customers' dining experience - The restaurant industry is flooded with similar business models, which is why restaurants need to specialize their dining experience to stand out. An OpenTable survey showed that 70% of guests want a personalized customer experience at a casual restaurant, the main factor being engagement. Staff can call guests by their name, suggest specific dishes, and remember regular customers' orders to create a sense of familiarity. This effort makes customers feel welcomed and valued.

3. Review and learn from negative reviews - Dissatisfied customers can drive down profits and a restaurant's reputation. A survey shows that restaurants receive 14% of all online complaints, making them the number one industry for negative online reviews. Online scrutiny spreads quickly but can be rectified by responding to the critiques directly. Replying to complaints can increase customer advocacy by nearly 25%; therefore, monitoring online feedback daily is very helpful for creating customer loyalty and improving restaurant performance.

4. Layout restaurant according to the target demographic - There are several ways restaurants can cater to their demographic, including music selection, lighting, and table setup. A family restaurant may want more booth seating to fit large families, brighter light and upbeat, appropriate music. On the other hand, a higher-end restaurant may have more tables for two, dim-lighting, artwork, and instrumental music.

5. Create a quality menu and food - The quality of food is often what attracts customers, and it depends entirely on the restaurant's cooking staff. Therefore, it is crucial not to overload the menu with variety to not overwork the chefs and sacrifice quality. In fact, restaurants with smaller menus find more success because of faster preparation, limited ingredient costs, and guaranteed high quality of food.

Staff must also be well acquainted with the menu to inform guests of any allergens and substitutions they offer. Flexibility within the menu shows guests that their needs are always a top priority.

6. Optimize inventory management - The satisfaction of both customers and management begins with proper inventory control. Restaurants can avoid frustrating stock blunders, such as running out of a key ingredient, by utilizing point-of-sale (POS) systems and inventory management software.

These two systems track sales and product usage, allowing management to see real-time inventory levels. The software can tell you when inventory is running low, recommend stock orders, and help reduce wasted product. Therefore, inventory management increases customer satisfaction by improving the efficiency of restaurant operations while also reducing food costs.

The level of restaurants' customer satisfaction directly reflects their revenue. Satisfying customers not only relies on the engagement by the front of the house but also how smoothly operations are performed in the back. From menu and food quality to inventory management and everything in between, the customers' happiness should always remain the primary goal.