Canadian Pizza Magazine

Identify your top 3 questions from customers

By Shep Hyken   

Features Business and Operations Customer Service customer service customer service tips fine shep hyken

Training your employees to answer the top three questions your customers ask them will lead to loyalty to your restaurant, according to customer service expert Shep Hyken. Hyken shares an anecdote that reveals insights about an employee’s lack of training.

I’ll never forget having dinner with my close friends, Kim Tucci and the late John Ferrara, more than 30 years ago, at a fancy restaurant in Phoenix, Ariz. John’s 12-year-old son, Ben, was also with us. The server came over to tell us about the specials and take our order. One of the specials was a seafood dish. Kim asked, “Is the fish fresh?”

I’ll never forget the server’s answer. “The fish is so fresh it hasn’t even thawed out.”

Fresh fish? Still frozen? I’m confused! Even Ben, at the young age of twelve, thought this was funny. But, the server was serious. Apparently fresh fish meant anything that wasn’t packaged in a cardboard box and sold in the freezer section of the grocery store.


The server gave the wrong answer, and that’s the point of this lesson. There are certain questions that customers often ask. And, the best employees know the correct answers, mostly because they have been taught the answers. They were properly trained and receive updates on the questions and answers as needed.

So, what are the most common questions that are asked in your business? In a restaurant, some of them might be about the ingredients, the price, substitutions and more. As a frequent restaurant patron, here are some of my top questions:

• What’s the soup of the day?
• Does this entrée come with a salad or side dish?
• How is the fish prepared?

That first question, the one about the soup of the day… I’m surprised at the number of times the server doesn’t know. Their response is, “Let me go back to the kitchen and ask the chef.” How could he or she not know? And, just as important, how could the manager or the chef not inform the front-line staff of the soup of the day or any other specials they need to know about?

So, here is a little homework. There are three main steps to the assignment:

1. Come up with the top three questions your customers ask your employees.
2. Create the best responses.
3. Train your people to answer the questions correctly.

After you’ve done this and everyone is comfortable with answering those first three questions, come up with three more popular questions and properly train staff on how to answer them. Do this as often as needed, for all your most frequently asked questions. Everyone should know how to answer these questions properly and with consistency, from one employee to the next.

When your customers realize that your employees have the answers to their frequently asked questions, this will instil trust, which will lead to loyalty to your business.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, visit For information on The Customer Focus customer service training programs, go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

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