My previous article in which I criticized customer care in the post-Soviet Union garnered an active response from our readers. In my follow-up, I’d like to adhere to the infamous rule that when one gives critiques, s/he must also give solutions. So here are my tips:
1. Service with a Smile
Look, I know the people on your staff are most likely not terribly eager to be at work so any gestures of kindness are at the very least a little fake and at the most full-on fake, but it doesn’t matter.
Being greeted by a fake smile and kind words rather than a brooding face can do wonders for your service levels. Remember, smiles are contagious and at least giving the perception that your workers are happy can improve the atmosphere of your establishment and even allow some other service aspects to falter without many consequences in regards to reviews or repeat customers.
Happy people buy more stuff, and will probably return.
2. Price & Quality/Quantity Correlation
In most of the Western world, the more you pay for a dish, the better it tastes. However, too often I find that the dish quality at a Moscow restaurant does not correlate well with the prices charged. If you can’t afford to improve the quality of the dishes you offer, either stop offering it, offer larger portions for the same price, or lower your prices.
Some of the prices I’ve found for an average bowl of soup, a low quality beer, or a mediocre burger are simply amazing.
3. Seat People!
Stop putting those ridiculous reservation signs on a table at dinner time when the table is reserved for after 10PM! Just stop! You’re losing customers, which means you’re losing money—and in more ways than one.
Do you think people will return to your restaurant another day if they see that all the tables are empty and you won’t seat them? It doesn’t take that long to eat dinner and you can always ask them to move to another table later.
4. Be attentive!
Have your employees check back on tables often. People shouldn’t be neglected. Often, they are in a hurry to get home after a long day at work, or on to a meeting or a date, or to whatever else might be going on for the day.
Check back about the quality of the food, ask if they need anything else, and eventually ask them if they’re ready for the bill.
5. “We don’t have it.”
Stop uttering this phrase. Order your ingredients properly so that you don’t run out of something, or amend the menu. It is incredibly annoying to see something on the menu and then to be told you don’t have it when ordering.
What’s worse is when several things are missing from the menu. It’s unacceptable!
6. Cover your mistakes
Mistakes happen. Sometimes you burn a pizza, sometimes your beer tastes flat. Offer the customer a small discount, something free, or another option if something goes wrong. This is basic customer service and you can bet that it will encourage customers to return to your restaurant.
7. Be Unique
I’m really sick of seeing places that offer both sushi and pizza. Those two foods don’t go together and frankly I don’t trust the quality of food from any place that offers both of these.
Instead, offer something unique. There is a real lack of GOOD Mexican food places around Moscow. Start with that and you’ll surely have expats flock to it if it’s good.
Often times, any criticism about any aspect of Moscow or Moscow life is met with some iteration of “Leave then, if you don’t like it.” from a proud Muscovite. In response, I’d like to point out that I like living in Moscow. I really do. It’s rare to hear, I know—but it’s true.
The fact of the matter is that you can like living somewhere and still wish to see it improve. You can still offer suggestions to make it better and you can remain optimistic despite common irritations.
Rather than being open to new thoughts and ideas, those that take offense are holding the city back from what more it could be.