When you consider a luxury customer service experience for your guests, what are the most important factors to consider? Quality, difficult-to-source ingredients? A fancy dining room? Speed of service?
Think of the last time you interacted with a luxury brand of any kind. What gave you the feeling that you were being treated as an important customer with money to spend?
Luxury brands put tremendous amounts of emphasis on customer service, and rightly so. If you want customers lining up at the door and calling months ahead for reservations, exclusive customer service should be the first thing on your mind.
Interactions will be an essential cornerstone of your customer experience. And, as with many factors, interactions at your establishment start with your staff.
Your employees are responsible for delivering a high-end dining experience. Unfortunately, it can be more difficult to attract and retain quality people in the restaurant industry, which has notoriously high turnover even in the best of times. Staff shortages continue to make getting and keeping the kind of employees who can offer a premium dining service challenging.
How are you supposed to attract and keep top caliber team members when you are already running on such tight margins?
Uncovering new opportunities for efficiency is one possible answer. Can you maintain excellent service with fewer people? It may (literally) pay off to try. Look for ways to automate basic processes your team has traditionally had to perform.
At the risk of sounding self-serving, your point of sale system is ripe with opportunity for operational efficiency! The right platform will support self service (such as a guest’s ability to order and pay directly from their smartphone), an intuitive interface that further supports service speed, reporting that uncovers further areas for automation and refinement, and an ecosystem that allows you to offer the integrations for the total end-to-end experience you endeavor to provide.
Invest in a kitchen management system that integrates directly to your POS, further reducing potential for unnecessary people, order errors, food waste and lag time between food prep and delivery. You’ll be able to provide a luxury customer service experience with fewer staff with the right technology in place.
Once you have attracted the best employees for the job, empower them to serve your customers well and offer the personalized customer experience that defines a fine dining experience. Train your wait staff so they understand the entire menu thoroughly.
You want each of your waiters to be able to serve customers as if they have personally sampled every dish on the menu. Waiters should be prepared with drink suggestions, meal pairings, and other intimate knowledge about your offerings. This enables them to provide each customer with a premium dining service based on their particular tastes and needs.
Another way to empower your team to provide truly excellent service is by ensuring they are never so overloaded with tables that they can't be sufficiently attentive and responsive. Again, the POS has some handy features to assist you with this. Leverage workforce management tools to maximize your scheduling. That way you can make data-informed decisions that help you provide the most coverage during peak hours and offer your team some respite when demand is lower.
Especially if you have regulars, a great way to offer a high-end dining experience is when you can cultivate real relationships with your guests. Good restaurant managers know their best customers and have their names, as well as some of their orders, memorized. However, if you want to provide a true luxury customer service experience to every patron of your restaurant, you want to collect data on each of them.
The right POS system will provide valuable customer insights based on data you collect through a loyalty program that engages customers continuously. Learning their preferences and visiting frequency, for example, can help you provide a personalized customer experience that keeps them coming back.
Even base-level data can help you tailor messages, offer unique discounts, or extend exclusive invitations to events that make your customers feel valued. Your guests should believe that your establishment cares about them specifically and that they're important, which is precisely how a luxury brand should make its customers feel.
Here’s an example of exclusive customer service in practice: If a given customer always orders sparkling water and you see that they've made a reservation, sparkling water should arrive at the table before it's requested.
After your customers have dined, it's not a bad idea to follow up with them to ensure they feel appreciated. Send a thank-you email or message, along with a coupon or discount that makes sense for each guest’s preferences. It’s a good idea to offer a brief survey attached to a discount or exclusive offer. Not only will you gain valuable information about your customers, but they'll feel valued.
When customers are spending a lot of money for a delicious meal, they are paying for more than the meal. They should feel that they are having an experience worth the money.
Every step of your customers' interaction with your restaurant should make them want to repeat the experience. When customers walk in, the restaurant should be immaculately clean, pleasantly lit, and have a beautiful ambiance. Staff should greet them immediately, ideally by name.
When you're providing a luxury customer service experience, every detail matters. Is the menu clear and easy to read? Is the decor consistent throughout the restaurant, even into the bathroom? Are all of the tables situated in such a way that no customers are uncomfortably close to a door or to the kitchen?
Luxury brands think of every element that plays into the complete brand experience. It’s all about elevating the lives of your customers.
If something does go wrong and a customer becomes disgruntled, teach your staff to be empathetic, caring, and to offer solutions quickly in order to meet customer satisfaction. It's much better to lose out on some profit if customers are deliberately putting up a fuss than to lose loyal guests because they are unhappy with what your restaurant has offered. A high-end dining experience means the customer is pretty much always right.
Every customer who walks in your door should feel that they are highly valued and catered to with premium dining service. However, one important aspect of luxury brands, whether restaurant or any other brand, is the feeling that you can get an experience more exclusive than everybody else’s. Offering this kind of exclusive customer service is a great way to cater to clients who want more than an everyday fine dining experience.
Chef's tables, private dining rooms, and special tastings are all great ways to make your customers feel extra special. Needless to say, the customer service at such events must be next level. Prepare your chefs and waiters for such events by giving them talking points, encouraging them to demonstrate certain aspects of the cooking, and also reminding them to give the customers space when they want it.
Even if you don't create an exclusive event, you can create the feel of exclusivity by having a special event with a unique menu, such as a brunch or wine tasting and charcuterie night.
Even if your customers aren't physically coming into your establishment, and instead choosing a “luxury” night at home, your online ordering system should feel like an obvious extension of your brand. It needs to be effortless to use and configured perfectly so that orders are never lost and are delivered promptly.
Delivery orders are too often undervalued by luxury restaurants because they often don't come with the high profit of appetizers, drinks, desserts, and the higher tips that accompany tableside service. However, overlooking delivery customers in your luxury customer service experience is a serious oversight.
Many of your most loyal customers may order when they don't feel like going out, and with online ordering, you can still offer them a personalized customer experience. Customers who haven't yet come to your restaurant may be trying it out as take out first. Provide the special touches in your delivery order that you would otherwise provide at the restaurant.
Ensure that kitchen staff pays extra attention to making sure that everything in the to-go box is correct. Customers can't easily send food back that's been delivered the way they can in the restaurant. One mixed up order could cost you a customer for life. After all, your customers may be having food delivered from your luxury restaurant for a very special occasion, so make sure you give them the high-end dining experience they expect.
A luxury dining experience isn't all about exceptional presentation, a sophisticated atmosphere, and premium ingredients. A fine dining experience at your restaurant starts with the customer service that you provide.
Quality customer service starts with quality staff, so look at what you can automate about your restaurant to ensure that your staff is of the highest quality and stays around long enough to be trained well.