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Jul 06

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Customer Service Tip-Know Your Customer

Get to Know your Customer



As mentioned in my previous post Restaurant Promotion Idea #7- Watch Reality Shows, I like to watch reality shows when I relax. Sometimes the things that come out will remind you or open your eyes to a similar problem that is happening in your place. Like my Executive Chef would say “If we see something every day, it becomes a norm even if it’s something bad or a thing that shouldn’t be done or shouldn’t be there”. So sometimes these shows trigger something in my mind.

An example of Assuming the Guest Likes

The other day I happen to come across a Reality Show on the Asian Food Channel that reminded me that we should never assume what our customers think of us or our food. The documentary was “Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmare”. It was about the famous Chef Gordon Ramsey. I normally don’t like watching a show by Gordon Ramsey because of his stint in “Hell’s Kitchen”. As I have mentioned previously that I feel no matter how great a chef you are, you shouldn’t belittle others even your customer. In this show he goes around helping owners of restaurant to rebuild their restaurant, bring in customers and in turn improve their bottom-line. This time around he was helping a Spanish restaurateur whose restaurant had a tiny kitchen but a menu of 75 items. So naturally the food got delay, customers got pissed and they never returned. The owner also wanted to try something different too, thinking it will bring in customers. He even had a dish of Deep-fried Prawns served with Chocolate Sauce. He assumed that the customer will like it.

My Own Experience of Assuming the Likes of a Customer

This brought back memories of the time when I was posted to Koh Samui, Thailand. In our new menu, the chef added Spaghetti Carbonara. It was prepared the traditional way, lots of cheese and cream and quite thick. What we noticed was that the dish came back to the dishwashing area half eaten. So we went around talking with the customers to enquire why this was so. That’s when we found out it was too thick and too creamy to our customers liking. So the chef did some modification to the dish, he added some chicken stock and made it with a little gravy. Again we went around asking the customer’s opinion. And this was a winner.
Nowadays in my present restaurant I have a book where the senior wait staff writes out comments that they get from the customer, no matter if it’s good or bad. Especially if there is a new menu. The book is read daily by me and my chef. I have found some interesting information on how to improve my food and service. The wait staff approaches the customer’s table 10 minutes after a food is served to enquire how the food is. Give the customer about 10-15 minutes to try. If it’s not to his taste, enquire what’s wrong and immediately get the kitchen to rectify. Don’t depend on the customer questionnaire that is in the middle of your table. Most customers don’t like to waste time filling it up unless it’s really a serious complaint and by that time it’s too late to do anything. One on one interaction is really important and the customers will be happy that you asked their opinion. This will show them that they are important to your establishment. Try it and you will see the results for yourself. I always remind my staff if you don’t know ask, don’t assume. Assume is making an ASS of U and ME.

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