How to make waiting an adventure instead of an ordeal.
There was a time when it would be seen as cool to have people waiting around the block, this is no longer the case. Where we used to be a nation of queue lovers we’re now a country of impatient toddlers. In an age where technology has meant we’ve adapted to having everything quicker and quicker, whether it’s information or food; we no longer want to spend our lives waiting.
No one likes to wait but there are ways of making the ‘build up’ to getting to that table that bit more comfortable and possibly even enjoyable. Here are a few tips to managing waiting customers and how overall experience can be improved for your patrons.
Acknowledgement: An oldie but a goodie. Acknowledgement is everything to customers and should be made as quickly as possible. From that very first second they walk in the door the restaurant and its staff is being judged by the customer, the rules here are simple; make it quick and make sure it oozes warmth, helpfulness and personality. A good welcome gets you a long way.
Make it comfortable and get connected: Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, do you enjoy shuffling around A-boards outside waiting impatiently to get in through the door? No. Restaurants now go the extra mile to demonstrate their hospitality. Outside waiting areas are on the increase and in the fair weather having that extra room to be seated and presented with a menu and the option of a pre-meal drink is heavily important. Provide your guest with covered areas and even little samples of the menu to whet their appetite; they will remember you for this and so will your competition.
If you’re not delivering free access to Wi-Fi then you are failing to deliver a basic requirement of today’s generation. Offer that and most guests will amuse themselves. It should be unlocked without the need to wave down a member of the front of house staff to ask for a password or register via The cloud. Free Wi-Fi should be seen as added value, a little something for nothing and without having to hand over their information in return.
Show them the end goal is in sight, keep them informed: A customer who feels more in control will stay longer, ensuring your staff gives customers regular updates and keeps them in the loop about waiting times and how many people are waiting will help the customer to feel that the choice is firmly in their hands whether it’s having a drink or finishing their shopping I’m personally a little bit in love with being given a table pager so I can carry on a few errands or have pre-dinner drinks before being alerted that my table is ready.
Love your regulars: Again referring back to my earlier blog about social identity, people love feeling as though they belong to a community. Some businesses actually quiz their staff on the personal details of their regulars down to their occupation, marital status, food likes and dislikes, favourite menu items etc they even follow them on social media letting them know when an item they like is in. They will find tables for these people even when the restaurant is full. Though, it’s a lot easier when used in conjunction with CRM. Customer Relationship Management is an extremely effective tool for driving customer loyalty. The information you can hold can positively affect a customer experience whether it’s what customers are choosing from the menu, how often they come in, it can even drill down to what their favourite cut of steak is and this makes building relationships a much easier process and you can then use this information to hone offers to their specific needs.
Avoid it happening in the first place: Technology is changing the queuing system completely as we know it anyway. Making it possible for customers to make in-app reservations or access information on availability and queuing times is the next step. Make sure you are using the latest tech to prevent customers from being disappointed and literally give them the power in their hands and the ability to avoid queuing altogether.
With new and innovative ways to ensure your customers are kept satisfied while waiting there really is no excuse. As more and more people are edging towards being engaged with and made to feel important and a part of their own community the old loyalty programs simply won’t cut it. Use every tool you have to retain customer loyalty by ensuring a memorable experience where the customer feels truly valued and they will return again and again.