It’s no secret that getting customers to keep coming back depends on the quality of the food you serve. However, equally important is the atmosphere in your Café and the friendliness of your staff towards your customers – even your kitchen staff. That’s right! ‘Service with a smile’ starts right from the kitchen.
While you may not think that your back-of-house staff can impact your customers or the service, there are many ways the atmosphere in the kitchen influence the mood and sentiment of your Café.
It starts in the kitchen
Your kitchen is the nerve centre of your Café. If the Chef or any of your staff aren’t feeling it, the negative mojo trickles down to other back-of-house staff, who spend time and energy trying to ease the atmosphere. This has a knock-on effect on your waiting staff who must manage the rising temperature in the kitchen while meeting customer expectations. And because most Café kitchens are in some way visible to the dining area, the mood of the kitchen quickly affects the mood of the entire Café.
For those of you who want a quick read, here's the gist.
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By giving your kitchen staff service training and guidelines to follow, you can help minimise distractions from both the front and back-of-house - and keep good vibes flowing, no matter how hectic things get.
As much as you can, make it obvious what you and your customers expect from your kitchen, meaning each member of your staff when it comes to good service. Make it part of your induction process and show your staff that your customer service is really all about making customers feel welcome, comfortable and keen on coming back.
Decide what kind of experience you want customers to have at your Café. Write a short paragraph that describes how your staff should respond to and service your customers.
Try something like this:
"We want our customers to feel like they are 'at home' in our Café. We try to learn their names, how they like their eggs cooked and how they like their coffee. When they leave, we want them to feel they’ve been hanging out with friends and not just eating in a Café."
This paragraph is your manifesto – that means it applies to the kitchen as well. It guides the behaviour of all your staff, the way they interact with your customers and form the basis of your customer-focussed efforts in training your staff.
Research shows that the most practical and time-tested way of ensuring your folks in your kitchen are awesome at putting their best customer-centric approach forward is to schedule regular service training sessions aka show and tell.
You could also try more engaging ways of training using role-playing or simple question-answer sessions as a way to stress the importance of what and what not to do with customers. Having a restaurant customer service training manual is also a good way to keep staff clued in on policies and procedures. Just make sure you keep it handy and easily accessible.
In addition to incorporating good customer-focused practices, you also need to keep tabs on how your service training efforts are tracking.
Put a plan in place to test the pulse of customer satisfaction in your Café and if necessary schedule refresher training courses for your kitchen staff. This is especially important as the hospitality industry has ones of the highest employee turnover rates.
Customer service done well can turn a good meal into a great experience, worth remembering and talking about. That the customer is king, is something that must be appreciated in your kitchen. So, make sure everyone on your staff knows the type of service you expect, and ensure you equip them with training and resources to deliver stellar service every single time.