Have you ever been to a restaurant that serves respectable (or even amazing) nosh, but somehow fails in providing you the overall desired dining experience? Listen up restaurateurs, we (the guests) have got the gold.
Here are 10 things restaurants can do to enhance the overall dining experience.
#1. GREETING YOU BY NAME
There’s something comforting about being greeted by name upon entering a restaurant. Taking the time and effort to remember each customer by name (despite the number of people coming and going each day) shows just how much a restaurant values its guests.
#2. KNOWING THE MENU
Service staff that are well-versed in their menu offerings are better equipped to provide better service. Knowing the full scope of ingredients, how the dish is prepared, and how it tastes provides servers with the knowledge to recommend something that’s best suited to the customer’s personal preference, as well as avoiding recommending items may result in allergic reactions.
#3. PROVIDING DIFFERENT SEATING SECTIONS FOR DINERS WITH CHILDREN
Let’s face it. If you’re taking a date out for a romantic dinner, would you appreciate listening to mothers trying to shush children who are making a scene at the dining table? (Unfortunately, there are people who bring ill-behaved kids to fine dining restaurants.) Experienced restaurants with good foresight would do well to seat guests with children away from those without.
#4. SEEKING YOUR PREFERENCES BEFORE DOING IT
While taking initiative is good, making assumptions is not. Asking a customer whether he/she would like to their wine to be decanted shows good initiative; automatically decanting wine without first seeking their preference, shows a lack of customer understanding—even if it is something the customer usually requests for. Clear it with them to absolutely sure, “Would you like your usual coffee order, sir?”
Restaurants should never assume they know what the customer wants. Guests may occasionally like to try something different.
#5. ALERTING YOU TO CURRENT DISCOUNTS AND OFFERS
Who doesn’t appreciate service staff that actively assists in helping them save money? Not all customers will be mindful to ask about current promotions and discounts. Alerting a customer to the restaurant’s discounts and promotions shows the customer that you care about them (instead of only focusing on increasing sales).
#6. BE GENEROUS WITH COMPLIMENTARY FOOD AND DRINKS
Restaurants often show appreciation by offering complimentary food and drinks to their guests. Offering complimentary small ticket items is a small price to pay to work your way into a customer’s heart, and they will remember you for it.
#7. BE ATTENTIVE TO YOUR NEEDS
“Miss, I noticed that you’re shivering. Is the temperature too cold for you? Would you like a shawl and some hot water?” Being attentive to guests before being asked to do so displays care and concern for the customer’s well being. It can be as simple as bringing extra napkins when a customer orders messy food. We appreciate it.
#8. GENUINELY ASKING FOR FEEDBACK
Service staff can make or break an experience. Be genuine when asking for feedback. Allow the customer to freely express their opinions and be honest about their experience. If the customer only has praises to sing, thank them for it. If it’s negative, take it. Show empathy and be professional when handling complaints, and your guests will appreciate it.
Service trumps quality. The likelihood of customers returning to a restaurant that serves sub-standard fare but offers exceptionally warm and friendly service is higher than that of a restaurant that serves good food by bad service staff.
#9. EFFORTLESSLY TRANSFERRING TABS
Diners may have had an enjoyable night at the restaurant and wish to continue having drinks at the bar. Effortlessly transferring tabs without requiring the customer to first settle the bill provides customers with a seamless experience.
#10. GRACIOUSLY OFFERING TO SPLIT THE BILL ACCORDING TO EACH INDIVIDUAL DINER
We all have that one friend who orders next to everything off the menu. In cases like these, splitting the bill evenly may not be fair for the rest. While it may be a hassle to split the bill according to each individual diner, service staff who offer to do so will be highly regarded—especially as this is rarely offered in Singapore. Do this, and it’s likely you’ll be seeing more group reservations.
About the writer:
Mandy Lynn is a former I-S Magazine writer and current columnist at Nookmag; her dining and nightlife features are published in Appetite Asia, Food & Travel, and Singapore Tatler Dining. For bite-sized food recommendations, follow her on Instagram and Facebook, or join her Gourmet Adventures to keep up with the latest openings in the dining scene.