“Perception is everything.”
That saying rings especially true in the hospitality industry, where the customer experience is described by restauranteur Danny Meyer as a series of “memorable moments”.
Jon Taffer, star of SpikeTV’s Bar Rescue and president of the Nightclub and Bar Media Group, says that “all successful business is about creating the right reactions in customers”.
I would add that it is never safe to assume what your customers are perceiving.
The Thing Your Customer Hates Most
A study done by Cornell and Columbia Universities found that customers hate waiting.
No brainer, right?
But the fact is that waiting can be psychologically painful, because all we can think about is all the things we’d rather be doing with our time and how much time we’re spending being held hostage at a restaurant.
The study divided the restaurant experience into three phases:
- from the moment a customer arrives to the time they are seated (pre-process)
- the phase from the time a customer is ordering to the time they are finishing their meal (in-process)
- the time the customer is ready for the bill to when they leave the restaurant (post-process)
The Two Most Critical Points of the Customer Experience
They then tested customer reactions to delays during the three different phases and found that customers were more upset when they were kept waiting before or after their meal. In comparison, customers were more understanding when the food itself was delayed. And it didn’t actually matter whether or not they were told how long they would be waiting.
Now, this study was done in 1989 but the basic psychology still stands. Also, thanks to the speed of technology, customers have less patience for any interruptions in service.
What You Can Do
With this study in mind, here are a few suggestions for your FOH operations:
Never underestimate the importance of your host stand.
From experience at many chain restaurants, the host stand is often an afterthought in comparison to waitservice and the kitchen. This study shows that not only is it the customer’s first impression of your restaurant, any hiccups at the host stand can be critical to the customer’s overall perception of your restaurant.
Give your customers more power over the payment process.
More restaurants are allowing customers to skip the wait for the check entirely by allowing them to pay on their phone or with kiosks at the table. Not to mention, if you’re already looking to upgrade your payment security to EMV, many payment apps in our Marketplace can also allow you to take payment at the table or through an app on your customer’s phone.
See our case study on how Graspa Group’s upgrade to EMV payments and pay-at-the-table ended up paying for itself.
Focus on what you’re really selling.
At the end of the day, great service and quality dishes are just vehicles for what customers are paying for – a memorable experience. Don’t let the memorable part be how long they waited for the check.
Like this post? Tell someone about it!The Two Most Critical Points of the Customer Experience Click To Tweet