Have you ever wondered how important customer service is to the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry? The short answer is that it is very important. But how can we prove it, and what can you do to improve customer service in your QSR?
We’ve shortlisted some statistics, as well as tips on how you can achieve top-tier customer service and benefit from it. These include how to increase customer satisfaction in various areas, alongside best practices from some of the leading QSRs when it comes to customer service.
The Importance of Customer Service and Satisfaction
A study conducted in 2013 shows that the rate of return for customers increased from 20% to 81% when satisfaction rates were higher. This also resulted in customers being four times more likely to recommend the restaurant.
A recent analysis of more than 331,920 online reviews of over 1,300 restaurants also showed that “service” was one of the most frequently mentioned keywords. Additionally, 60% of customers read reviews before going out for a meal, and a one-star increase in a restaurant’s Yelp rating correlated with a 5-9% increase in revenue.
All of the statistics above indicate the importance of customer service, which contributes to positive reviews, and in turn, leads to greater revenue. However, customer satisfaction has been dropping across America, by 1.3% compared to 2018.
With customers having higher expectations when it comes to customer service, these results should not come as a shock. But this also shows that it is an opportunity to build your QSR’s reputation when it comes to good customer service, which can be a key differentiating factor from your competitors.
Working on Customer Service
Now that you realize the importance of customer service, it is time to look into how you can incorporate it into your QSR. There are several areas you can look at, broadly categorized into the following buckets: Covid-19 Related Measures, Digitization, Customer Experience, and Employee Training & Culture.
Employee Training & Culture
The root of customer service is your employees, it is crucial that they receive sufficient training for them to be aware of the standard expected by your QSR, and how to deal with customers when the need arises.
Starbucks is an example of a QSR with well-recognized training - as they utilize a 70/20/10 approach. 70% of their training involves learning from on-the-job experience, 20% from feedback and mentorship from their supervisors, and 10% through online e-learning.
Through mobile training, you can send handbooks, checklists, and training videos via a text message link, which allows employees to access them anytime and anywhere. Hiring managers can review completion rates, and send out SMS reminders to guarantee completion.
Some topics that could potentially be covered in onboarding and training include greeting diners, how to deal with customers, familiarity with the menu, proper etiquette when it comes to service, and service procedures such as bringing the check and how to use the POS system.
That being said, employees should also be tested on this information after onboarding has been included, to allow them to apply what they’ve learned from the onboarding materials in a real-life context. Conduct occasional tests and checks, such as engaging a ‘mystery shopper’, to ensure that service is consistent across the board even in different outlets.
Having a Holistic Culture
It is important that you create a holistic culture within your QSR, as enjoying what they do with a positive work environment contributes to employee satisfaction, which is then manifested in the way they treat your customers. Consider having employee recognition programs to reward good customer service and contributions, or bonding days to allow employees to foster closer relationships with their teams.
Creating a safe environment will also allow employees to be vocal about their thoughts, or providing feedback that can help improve the service levels at your QSR.
McDonald’s achieves this by providing flexible work schedules to provide employees with work-life balance, alongside performance-based remuneration to encourage staff to meet their financial goals. Not only do these serve as an incentive for employees to give their all at work, but they are also likely to stay in the organization for a longer period of time as they remain motivated.
Covid-19 Related Measures
As the business ecosystem heads towards a ‘new normal’, Covid-19 related measures become more of a priority to customers when it comes to dining in. Find out what customers expect from your QSR in terms of safety standards, because these will contribute to better customer satisfaction. This article goes into detail about how you can prepare your QSR for the new normal, taking into consideration the changing consumer behaviors in these times.
From ensuring that employees are donning adequate PPE, frequent cleaning and sanitization, and even providing alternatives such as drive-thrus and curbside pickups, these are some things you could implement to give customers peace of mind.
Chipotle accelerated the expansion of their digital order pick-up lane, wittily termed ‘Chipotlane’ to meet the increasing demand for mobile orders and drive-thrus. These lanes are a great alternative, especially for wary customers who may not wish to risk transmission by dining in at their outlets or simply hope for shorter waiting times.
Based on a survey conducted by Panasonic, 71% of respondents stated that digital transformation is far more important than any other factor, for business agility. Covid-19 has definitely spurred digitization in the QSR industry, but how does digitization play a role in customer service?
As people are increasingly busy, many prioritize speed and efficiency of service. This is where online reservations, mobile orders, and contactless ordering come in. Customers are able to place their orders and immediately pick them up with little to no waiting time because they’re alerted only when the food is ready. Queue numbers and buzzers will also solve the issue of long wait times, which could contribute to a positive experience as customers a rough idea of when they can expect their food.
On a similar note, MOOYAH implemented a refreshed kitchen display system to facilitate communications between the cashier and the kitchen. This allowed those at the register to focus on keying in the right order. Fewer slip-ups mean greater customer satisfaction.
Additionally, QR code and digital menus are a Covid-19 friendly option, as they are easily accessible and unlike physical menus, do not pass through many hands in the span of a day. Often overlooked, the regular maintenance of machines and tech products is also crucial - ensure that everything is in working order to reduce instances of sudden breakdowns.
Prioritizing the Customer Experience
When everything else mentioned in front has been taken care of, it brings us to the final (and most important segment) of customer service. By prioritizing the customer experience, customers leave happy. Think of ways to surprise them and evoking a positive experience.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated, simple gestures like providing activities for kids, wifi access or even having a TV in the waiting area keeps them busy during the wait time. When customers are preoccupied, they are less likely to be in a hurry to receive their order.
Chick-fil-A is an excellent example of a QSR with a great customer experience, as fans are happy with their customer service, polite employees, and cleanliness. Their staff is trained to manage customers, to create a warm and inviting environment, even offering free food to create the best experience.
Personally, one of my best QSR encounters was also in their store, where a staff at the register initiated a conversation about photography when he saw the camera hung around my neck. Although it was a simple gesture, his friendly demeanor made it feel like I wasn’t just at a regular fast-food restaurant, and it was a pleasant and memorable experience.
Customer Complaints and Encouraging Feedback
Employees should be trained to deal with complaints by responding immediately and offering additional discounts or freebies when necessary to do damage control.
Comment cards are also effective for obtaining feedback and are a good opportunity to figure out how to improve on your QSR’s customer service standards. Consider encouraging customers to leave reviews or social media posts about their experience, which can help in raising awareness of the customer service in your QSR.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Top it all off with an all-around Customer Relationship Management system, by providing personalized services through loyalty programs. This will allow you to obtain insights into each customer’s preferences and purchasing behavior. Your employees can then make relevant recommendations to increase customer satisfaction, and create a personalized customer experience as a part of customer service.
Tiered membership and reward programs will also encourage revisits, alongside EDMs to inform customers of new promotions or menu items. By incorporating these in your QSR, customers are likely to be loyal to your brand as they feel valued, thus increasing customer satisfaction.
The above tips should give your QSR a head-start in improving your customer service and create a memorable experience for all customers. While it may not seem complicated, it is necessary that you ensure the standards are consistent across all franchises for customers to associate it with your brand name.
Want to know how you can secure skilled employees and onboard them to meet the standards of your QSR? Schedule a chat with us, we’re more than happy to provide customized insights and share more.
Kai Lin is a freelance writer and digital marketer well-versed in SEO. Apart from writing, she also seeks solace in traveling, photography and playing the piano.