Making Dough with Diane: July-August 2012

Sell yourself with service
Diane Chiasson
July 06, 2012
By
Eight ways to amp up your customer service
Eight ways to amp up your customer service

delivery  
Ensure your delivery drivers are trained in great customer service.
 

Competition in the pizza business continues to grow. More and more upscale restaurants are starting to offer designer pizzas, while supermarkets now sell frozen pizzas that continue to improve. How can you combat all this competition, and distinguish your operation as one of the best? It’s time to go back to basics and win customers over with great service. Your customers are your top priority. You cannot succeed without them.

Here are some ideas to reinforce some of the basic skills it takes to offer top-notch customer service.

Say ‘hi’
Your pizza operation is like your home, and when your guests knock on your door, you greet them and welcome them in. Your customers are guests of your pizza operation, and should be treated so. As soon as anyone walks through your door, regardless of what you are doing at the moment, take the two seconds to look up, make eye contact and say hello with a smile. If you are busy, tell them that you will be with them shortly.

Use the right words
Every time you interact with your customers, it’s an opportunity to sell something. Avoid answering questions with one-word answers, and always offer suggestions. For example, if your customer asks if you have salami, don’t just answer “yes,” but elaborate. “Yes, our salami is imported from Italy, and we also have some great prosciutto and pepperoni as well!”

Keep customers informed
Whether your pizza operation is a sit-down restaurant or a takeout operation, always keep your customers informed about how long their pizzas will take. If you know you are experiencing a delay, let your customers know before they order, and ask them if they are able to wait a little while longer. If they cannot wait, apologize and offer a coupon for their next visit. This might cost you a pizza sale that day, but hopefully won’t cost you the customer!

If you encounter a delay after the pizza has been ordered, apologize to your customers and let them know that there is a problem, and that you are doing your best to get the pizza to them as soon as you can. Offer a free drink while they wait.

Make customers feel welcome and comfortable
While customers are waiting for their pizzas, make them feel comfortable and welcome. Do not chat with a co-worker about your love life or other inappropriate subjects, or do things as if the customer does not exist. At takeout operations, make sure you have comfortable chairs for customers to sit on while they wait, and leave copies of magazines and newspapers to help pass the time. Offer a glass of water, or promote new menu items by offering free samples.

Ensure the order is correct
Since there are so many options today for ordering pizzas, with multiple ingredients, different types of crusts, etc., it is important to double-check all the orders to ensure that there are no mistakes. When taking an order from the customer, make sure you repeat the order back to your customer to confirm. For takeout operations, open the pizza box in front of your customer before he takes it away to ensure that all the correct toppings are on the pizza, and check everything in the bag for any additional menu items. You don’t want your customer to drive all the way home to realize that he has the wrong pizza!

Offer extras
For takeout orders, always ask your customers if they need paper plates, extra napkins, cutlery or any other items that would make their pizza meal more enjoyable. Customers may be ordering pizza to take to a park or a public place, and forget they need the extras. Before your customers walk out the door, ask them if they have everything they need.

OFFER Delivery service
If your pizza operation offers delivery, ensure that your driver is also trained in proper customer service. Your pizza delivery driver is an ambassador of your business, so it is important that he or she represent your business in a positive way by being polite, pleasant and helpful. Ensure that the driver has a full tank of gas, knows the routes, handles the pizzas carefully and is able to deliver a hot, fresh pizza to your customers.

Train and reward your staff
In order to offer great customer service at all times, each and every member of your staff must be on board. A negative encounter with any staff member can drive away your customer forever. It is important to properly train your staff on delivering good customer service, and to acknowledge and reward them when they have done a good job.

These simple but effective best practices for customer service will keep your patrons coming back for more.


Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, 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 www.chiassonconsultants.com .

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