Making dough with Diane: 7 keys to great customer service

Diane Chiasson
November 03, 2009
In any business, good customer service can be the difference between success and failure. Your restaurant might offer the best tasting pizza, the best prices or the quickest delivery in the neighbourhood, but one sour experience with a staff member will drive that customer away forever.

Remember that when people go out to eat, they are not only looking to satisfy their appetites, but are seeking an enjoyable experience all around. However, good customer service doesn’t just mean being friendly and offering the biggest smile. Here are seven critical steps to boosting the levels of customer service in your pizza operation.

1. Greet customers immediately
Customers like to feel important so the best way to insult a customer is to ignore them. Make sure you greet new customers within 30 seconds of entering your establishment. If you or your hostess is busy, at least acknowledge the fact that you have noticed your customer and indicate that you will be right over.

2. Cut the wait time on drinks and food
After your guests have been seated, make sure that you take a drink order and return with the drinks within a few minutes. If your guests are unable to decide on a drink, bring them a glass of water.

After ordering, make sure that your guests receive their food in a timely manner. If there is a problem in the kitchen, don’t hide this from your hungry guests. Explain the situation immediately, and offer your guests a free appetizer or a free round of drinks while they wait. Your customers will be more understanding if you are busy and there is a need to wait, but only if you acknowledge the problem and make some sort of attempt to reconcile the situation. If the situation gets really out of hand, comp the entire meal and invite your customers to return for another meal on the house.

3. Don’t make customers pay for something they don’t like
Ask your customers how they like their meal within two minutes of delivering a dish. If they express any dissatisfaction whatsoever, immediately take the dish away and rectify the situation by offering something else or a remake of the same item. Even if you have offered a substitute, take that dish off the bill. You need to win that customer back right away and it won’t be by making him or her pay for something he or she didn’t like. You can also try winning your customer back by offering one of your delicious desserts for free as well as a coupon for a free entrée on his or her next visit.

4. Keep your bathrooms clean and enjoyable
Good customer service reaches beyond the dining room. Your guest may be having a great meal, but if your bathroom is a disaster area it could be a deal breaker. Make sure that you keep your bathrooms clean and well-stocked with toilet paper, hand soap and paper towels. Make sure that they smell nice by investing in an industrial air freshener. Put up a copy of your newsletter, or advertise your drink and menu specials on the back of the cubicle door. Make sure you pipe your music into the bathroom to drown out any unpleasant sounds.

5. Keep customers busy while waiting
If your pizza operation is a take-out business, make sure that you create a pleasurable waiting area for your customers. Put some comfy couches in your waiting area with plenty of magazines and newspapers to read, as well as a flat-screen TV. Make sure you have some toys, crayons and paper on hand for busy kids. Offer a free refreshment stand with some water, lemonade or coffee.

6. Comment cards
One of the best ways to improve customer service is to receive feedback from your customers. By allowing your customers to fill out comment cards, you can read exactly what your customers wanted to say, but might have been too embarrassed to say to your face. Make sure that all your employees wear a name tag, so that poor service by certain employees can be identified.

7. Reward employees
The level of service your employees offer is crucial to your business. Most lost customers can be attributed to the poor performance or a bad attitude amongst your staff. Since you don’t have time to watch every single move your employees make, give your employees an incentive to help your pizza operation be more successful. Try giving them a share of the profits, offering bonuses when sales targets are reached or running contests to see which employee receives the most positive feedback from customers. •

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She provides innovative food and retail merchandising programs, interior design, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , or visit

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