Is your FOH Restaurant Staff Doing This?
Posted: Apr. 10, 2019
Make sure your restaurant FOH staff isn’t turning off customers with these four irritating behaviors.
Upstanding customer service is a combination of discipline, grace, and care. When a restaurant FOH staff is upholding high customer care standards, they are synchronized in their efforts to put the customers’ needs first. In turn, guests return frequently.
To polish your restaurant’s customer experience, observe your FOH staff for one week, looking out for behaviors that annoy customers. It’s often the case that FOH employees have no idea they’re doing something to irritate the guests, and just need a reminder of the do’s and don’ts of customer service. See the four most common annoying behaviors below.
Clueless About the Menu
The single point of reference guests have with the menu and its intricacies is the serving staff, so it’s frustrating for the customer when a server doesn’t have an answer. Depending on the question, it can look unprofessional.
In the next meeting, review the ins and outs of your menu. It’s not necessary that they know the minutia; however, the FOH staff should be able to answer questions from guests with dietary needs, allergies, or who are curious about the food. That would include the following:
- The specific primary and notable ingredients.
- When something is made with nuts, nut butters, or nut oils.
- Dishes with dairy products.
- Where any meat or seafood is sourced from, particularly steak and shellfish.
- The cooking process, such as steamed or poached.
- The correct pronunciation for listed cooking processes or names on the menu.
Cover these menu categories and make them mandatory to learn—there might be some grumbling, so gently remind staff that it’s in their favor to know this. Customers are unimpressed by I don’t know.
In the event they cannot answer a question, teach your team to respond with: I’m not sure, I want to give you the right answer so will ask the chef now. This kind of response shows customers that they are dining in a conscientious restaurant.
Forgetting Tableware Essentials
Situational hiccups are to be expected in restaurants, and it takes repetition to achieve near perfection. One example of a task to always get right is the placement of correct tableware and recognizing when something is missing.
Review the tableware essentials with your FOH staff, such as when a soup spoon, steak knife, or pepper mill are to be served. This is particularly important for sit-down dining, yet for fast-casual restaurants, it’s equally important to give customers all that they’re expecting. Avoid disappointing customers by staying on top of the essential dining equipment.
Present, Yet Inattentive
A customer enters a restaurant and is seated, places an order with a server, and receives no more attention from another staff member until the food arrives. If you're lucky, the customer in that scenario needed nothing between placing their order and the arrival of their food, but what if they had? Imagine a thirsty customer that wants a refill of water. Imagine that customer having to flag down a passing busser or server, or not even being able to get a staff member's attention to flag them down.
When a customer needs help and no one notices, the dining experience is spoiled.
You might have had a similar experience eating out. Unfortunately, not being seen or heard by FOH staff is all too common. It happens so frequently, that the first thing people tend to say is: I hate when this happens.
Every week in staff meetings, remind the FOH to be attentive while on the floor. Encourage bussers and servers to keep watch on all table sections, not just their own, and to notify someone when a guest from another section needs something. Remind servers that pausing and scanning the room for inquiring customers is a part of their job.
During rush hours it can be difficult, but being the priority, seated customers always need to be paid attention to. Look out for eye contact, waving hands, or other behaviors from customers trying to get the staff’s attention. Lastly, remind the FOH they are a team. Look out for all table sections, and pin copies of the table sections in prominent places so the FOH knows who’s in charge during a shift.
With an attentive FOH team, your customers are going to feel cared for and tell their circles how great the service is.
Having Personal Conversations on the Floor
Throughout the day, the FOH should be engaging and getting to know each other. Your business thrives when the team is friendly. Yet personal conversations on the floor can have a negative impact on profits.
Here’s how: When customers are distracted from their dining conversation or if the FOH ignores the floor, the quality of service is automatically lowered. Diners might be less inclined to stay longer and order more, and depending on how bad the experience was, they might not come back.
Encourage your FOH to keep conversations light while on the floor, and when things are slow, to take care of some prep work (like folding napkins) instead of oversharing while customers are present.
As a precaution, review these four bad habits at your next staff meeting or set up a refresher customer experience training course.
Posted: Apr. 10, 2019 | Written By: Emma Alois
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