10 Things Restaurants Should Change
This blog post is focused on things that I believe restaurants can improve on to make the dining out experience more pleasant, friendlier and more customer-focused. This list is my opinion and has been created based on my experiences as a customer, waitress and blogger.
Making a good first impression
There have been a few occasions where I’ve had a negative impression of a restaurant before I’ve even got there, things that niggle at me are:
No online booking
I’m a millennial; I’ll happily admit it. That means I fall into the camp of people who want things quick, easy and instantly. I also don’t want to talk to someone unnecessarily. Being able to book online, even if it’s through email is a winner.
I’ve had many an experience where I call a restaurant and say, “hi can I book a table for tomorrow night for 2 people at 8 please?” only to have to repeat each section bit by bit…”tomorrow”, “no 8pm”, “yes 2 people”. Frustrating.
It’s also frustrating if the restaurant has a contact section with social media or email addresses but when you choose that option they tell you to ring them – forcing you to use their preferred booking method. That’s not customer-friendly.
No booking option at all
What’s worse than not being able to book online? Not being able to book at all. It’s becoming a bit popular (to my annoyance) that there are places out there who tell you to just turn up and see what happens. No thanks.
I’m not getting dressed up and have to stand around for 20 minutes or having to traipse across town trying to find somewhere to eat because you’re unorganised.
Again, personal opinion, but from a customer and business point of view surely you want to know how many staff to put on, how many tables will be filled and to provide the customer with instant service when you show them to their personally reserved table?
Fixed table times
What says “we’re so happy for your custom” more than “you only have the table for 2 hours and then you need to leave”? Fixed table times should be abolished. I’ve never overrun but it puts me on edge and makes me feel like I’m just a number.
No menus online
I’m not a lover of checking out menus before I try out a place, as I tend to feel like I’ve been there before. I like the surprise of checking out a fresh menu when I’m there (side note: please make sure they are clean and stain-free!) but, online menus allow those with dietary requirements to figure out if you’re worth a visit.
Don’t just put up a sample menu; show up-to-date and relevant menus to allow a sale before they even step in the door. Menus also help bloggers remember what we had and the descriptions along with price checking for reviews.
Getting a good welcome
Everyone wants to feel welcomed and loved; when you’re at a restaurant it’s no different. Below are three things that have instantly given me negative vibes and in some cases, made me a little angry.
No welcome by any staff member
I’ve been in places where staff have walked past, looked me in the eye and flat out ignored me as where I was stood either wasn’t “their section” or it wasn’t their job to welcome people. Please please please have staff give a smile, a nod or even a “someone will be with you shortly”.
The customer’s entering your space, they’re uncomfortable, they may not know the rules – do you sit down? Head to the bar? Flag someone down? Instantly making a customer feel at ease will only win you brownie points.
So this is a scenario that happened to me – I was at the bar ordering drinks whilst waiting for a table. I asked for a wine and the barman (and owner I might add) turned to my boyfriend and asked if he wanted a bottle, my boyfriend gave me a side-glance and answered with an awkward yes. I ignored my inner feminist and ordered a glass of coke too – the owner once again turned to my boyfriend to ask if he wanted ice and slice. I was furious, I told the barman to talk to me as I was ordering and I was also paying, he got in a strop and I made a vow to never visit the restaurant again. Find out where this happened.
Sexism also comes in the simple form of presuming that the man is paying. I pay for my fair share of meals and often the card machine will be automatically handed over to my boyfriend. Not cool, it’s 2018.
It’s not necessarily welcome related but venues that think their funky decor or cleanliness end in the front area are getting it wrong. If I go to the toilet and it’s dirty, full of cobwebs, graffiti or in need of some general TLC then I question what their overall cleanliness is like, in particular their kitchen. After all, this is still a public area so what’s like behind closed doors?
Feedback comes in many forms but I find a lot of places are blind to it or are too set in their ways to want to do anything differently. The final three points talk through improvements that could be made with minor tweaks – again, my opinion.
No ability to tip by card
This one’s to help the staff. I wish that when they put in the order total they didn’t remove the option to add a tip.
I don’t know if this is because of technical inability, policies or that it doesn’t go into their pocket (I worked in a restaurant once where all tips went to the boss the he gave a % based on how hard he believed you had worked). Whatever it is, there must be a solution as I don’t carry cash and I feel extremely guilty walking out and leaving an empty table behind.
Not asking how they can improve
Hands up if you’ve ever told the wait staff what’s wrong with your food when they come over. No one? Me either. They ask at inconvenient times and out of habit, sometimes they’re even on their way to another table as they wait for your “fine thanks” automated response.
My thoughts on this are to ask after the meal, “how could we have made your meal better?” You may get some quick smart answers “make it free” but I bet you get some great pieces of feedback to grow your business. Plus you’ll remove the tick box exercise that doesn’t serve much purpose anymore.
No social media engagement
This is probably the blogger in me coming out but I like to see interaction between customers and restaurants, even if it’s showing the new menu, the reviews they’ve had or things they’re doing in the community. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy plus it helps me find new and interesting places.
If you’re tucked away somewhere I’m probably not going to stumble on you anywhere other than online. Don’t forget to actually engage with people commenting or reviewing – these are your customers and you wouldn’t ignore them face-to-face!
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Love for you all x