Customer care is an essential part of any hospitality business. Customers provide income, and help make the business profitable.
When the needs of customers are met through high standards of customer care they return.
When their needs are not met and they experience poor service they do not return and this means loss of business and less profit.
With a wide variety of outlets to choose from, customers are not prepared to put up with low standards.
Providing good customer care involves:
There are 5 main customer expectations:
Value for money
Customers want to feel that they get good value for the quality of the products and services they receive. Good value does not mean cheap.
When a customer goes to a fine dining restaurant they will expect to pay more, but they will also expect good surroundings, well turned out and highly trained staff as well as exceptional food.
Accuracy and reliability
Customers will expect the quality of products and services to be consistent. Products should be as described and the quality of the food should always be the same irrespective of which chef cooked it.
Items on the menu should be as described so the customer has accurate information when making a choice; if the menu describes a dish as made with breast of chicken then only breast should be used and not the leg or thigh.
When a delivery service tells the customer the order will be delivered in 15 minutes, then it should be. Bills and accounts should always be accurate.
Information, advice and help
Staff must understand the needs of the customer. In a restaurant waiting staff may be asked about a dish and it is essential that they know what is in it and can describe the ingredients so that the customer can make an informed choice.
Sometimes a customer may look unsure and if a member of staff observes this, help and advice should be offered.
This shows good service by being aware of the customer’s needs and providing information and advice before being asked - exceeding customer expectation.
Dealing with problems and complaints
Problems such as cold food, a room is not up to standard or a member of staff is rude can lead to complaints. These should be dealt with immediately in a pleasant and polite manner.
Some form of compensation should be offered, for example a reduction of the bill, moving to another room or a complimentary drink. This makes the customer feel valued and respected and they are likely to overlook the issue.
Other problems may not be caused by the business, like if a customer becomes ill, receives bad news or has lost an item.
When situations like this happen, the action taken by staff to provide help and support can go well above the expectations of the customer and have a positive impact on the business’s reputation
Health, safety and security
All businesses have a duty of care towards their customers. This means that employers and employees have a responsibility to ensure the premises are safe, clean, and secure for everyone.
Training of staff in all health and safety legislation should be in place so that customers are not put at risk.