diningoutExperts talk a lot about how to improve dining experience and restaurant customer service from the perspective of the customers themselves, but there is very little discussion out there about how to improve customer experience from the restaurant”s point of view. Naturally, you should always be working on the dining experience. To get to the point where you”re always improving, you need a plan. But where do you start?

Restaurant customer service can be more challenging than customer service in many other industries. To improve customer service you need to gather information not only from industry experts, but from customers themselves: They know best about their own customer experience! To get you started thinking about customer experience in a strategic way, let”s look at the seven best ways you can help improve the dining experience for all your customers.

1) Improve Your Point of Sale System

Your point of sale system needs to be clean, neat and organized if you are going to present the best experience possible. A good POS leads to quick service and helps you to deal with one of the most challenging and constant issues in dining: Splitting checks.

2) Understand What Customers Are Expecting

Patrons come to your restaurant with certain ideas in mind and a specific customer experience that they wish to enjoy. Every member of the team should understand these expectations and strive to live up to them, and the ambiance, decor, and menu should match this.

3) Be Aware of Customers” Needs Over Time

At a restaurant, your associates need to be more perceptive and empathic than might be required at another kind of business. They should be tuned in to the body language cues that can tell you at a glance whether a diner is satisfied or needs further attention at each stage of dining.

4) Individualize Your Services for Each Group

Once your team has mastered the ability to judge a table”s needs, you can look at more advanced training in “reading the table” to understand how things should be approached from the very beginning. Large groups, smaller groups, couples, new visitors, kids … all have different needs!

5) Be Prepared to Tour the Menu

Of course, in order to “tour” the menu you need a good, visually appealing menu to start with. Especially with first-time visitors, it is a good idea to be aware of the offerings in terms of their price, speed, and general quality and tailor your recommendations.

6) Use Eye Contact to Your Advantage

When it comes to figuring out what”s going on around the restaurant, the staff has the advantage of being able to observe customers who are not looking at them; this amplifies body language cues. If you see a patron in need, however, immediately make eye contact and follow up.

7) Be Cautious of the Check

Diners want to receive the check promptly, but the definition of “promptly” varies by the situation. Patrons can feel rushed if they receive the check before they are ready. With proper “table reading” skills, you can decide whether to leave the check before being asked.

There are plenty of great sites online that offer advice from the perspective of the patron or the wait staff. By visiting these sites and getting the perspective from the other site of the table, you can go a long way toward figuring out how to improve customer service!

Here”s just a few places to visit: