Customer Service and Suggestive Selling


1 min read

Everybody wins with good customer service; customers have the best dining experience possible, problems are resolved, staff feels more satisfied in their work, and most of all it drives your business forward. Conversely, poor customer service does the opposite and isn’t sustainable for your business.

Every business will have its own idea of what drives good customer service and what suggestive selling looks like, so work out from the list below what is most applicable to your business, and make sure that you keep on training and retaining your staff in this area.

Service – Your commitment to your customers should be that they will receive outstanding customer service each and every time they visit your café or restaurant. Not only will this keep them coming back but it will drive positive referrals, and future business.
Excellent and insightful service involves the following:
  • Ensure that all customers are greeted warmly and quickly. If you’re busy, smile and make eye contact with the customer and let them know you will be with them in a minute.
  • When talking to a group, make sure you make them feel included by talking and making eye contact with them all.
  • Never appear rushed in front of a customer. Each should feel like they have your full and undivided attention.
  • When talking to customers speak clearly with confidence and warmth.
  • Pick up on the cues your customer is giving you, as this will help you anticipate the kind of service they are wanting and their likely needs.
  • Place yourself in your customer’s shoes and deliver the kind of service you like to receive when dining out.
  • Outstanding customer service falls flat if it’s not delivered with a smile and positivity. This also helps drive a friendly and relaxed atmosphere.
  • Remember regulars’ names; they love to be recognised.
  • Never argue with a customer and never defend a mistake or blame others. When something is wrong, maintain a warm and friendly disposition and use the opportunity to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one.
  • Never allow staff to congregate in groups to chat, even during slow periods. Ensure you always look busy by taking care of the small jobs that always need to be done.
  • Ensure that you are anticipating the needs of your customers, but be careful not to ‘over-service’ them.
  • Every customer should be provided with water [sit down restaurants only] as soon as they sit down, give them a menu and let them know you will be back soon to take a drink order. 
  • Be knowledgeable about the menu so that you can make recommendations and understand what allergens may exist in each dish.
  • Throughout the service keep on asking yourself:
  1. What else needs to be done right now?
  2. Does a team member need my help?
  3. Am I ready for the next rush?
  4. What’s happening? 
  5. Is there a situation arising that I should be ready for?
  6. How are my customers going? 
  7. Is it likely they need anything from me?
Remember, delivering great service is fun, and the positive interactions you will have with your customers will give you a real buzz.

Suggestive selling harnesses the power of good customer service and anticipates the needs of your customers to increase your sales.

It’s a win-win scenario in which customers feel like they’re receiving outstanding service and in doing so, they’re happily spending more money.

Suggestive selling requires the following:

  • Intimately understanding every item on the menu and taking the opportunity to talk to the customer about the menu item. Understand the ingredients and any relevant anecdotes which might relate to them.
  • Read your customer, consider what they’ve just asked for and offer them something that will compliment this. Tea, coffee or a cold drink are always good options, maybe they’d like to add a side or an add-on that goes well with what they’ve already ordered. 
  • Build a rapport with the customer, especially if they’re a regular, as this will help them trust your advice.
  • Give your customers space, they will often need time to look at the menu and consider what they need.
  • Don’t overdo it and never be pushy.
  • Show enthusiasm. Don’t be afraid to guide them through the menu and make recommendations, a lot of customers respond well to this, especially if they are visiting for the first time, or the menu has been updated since their last visit.
  • If appropriate, give them a little taste of an item you’re recommending.
  • Think about the time of day, as this will influence the types of items you suggest.


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