How to… give your customers some festive cheer

16 December 2011
How to… give your customers some festive cheer

Christmas is an enjoyable time of year, but it's also a demanding one, especially in the hospitality sector. Group bookings and temporary staff mean it can be a juggling act to maintain standards and show your business in the best possible light.

Get it right and Christmas will have a significant impact on your bottom line, and generate goodwill that will last all year. So read the festive check list, and ensure you spread the holiday cheer among your staff and customers this Christmas.
Tim Ogle, CEO at customer experience specialist Retail

festive check list

1Meet and greet As soon as customers enter an establishment they will have an impression of the place. Christmas is a key time when customers dine with friends and family, therefore you want them to have good things to say about your business to ensure they come back and recommend.

Having a member of staff positioned near the entrance of your business greeting customers will ensure good first and last impressions. If a customer feels looked after from start to finish, they will more than likely have good things to say.

2Waiting times - be open Christmas is a busy period and while you don't want customers having to wait, the likelihood is they won't mind doing so. The most important tip about waiting times is being open with the customer. If there are any delays, make the customer aware as soon as you know.

When adding a customer to a waiting list, remind your staff to ask if they would like to have a drink at the bar while they wait. Not only does this make the wait a small part of the experience, it also scores points from a hospitality standpoint and helps drive some additional revenue.

3Cleanliness… is essential! The cleanliness of your location will tell a customer everything they need to know about your products and standards in an instant. All bars and restaurants will no doubt have someone in charge of the cleanliness of the place, but it's crucial this is kept on top of, especially in busy periods.

Christmas is the time when new customers are most likely to visit a new location, so creating a positive and lasting impression can set you up for the following year. Even if a minor error happens during an experience, this will be magnified if a place is untidy and dirty.

4Check back with the customer Check backs give you a great opportunity to show the customer you care about their experience and give you the chance to resolve any issues that arise.

In a busy location, check backs can be a challenge but one that must be taken head on.

When serving food, a check back should be made within two minutes of the food being served. This can allow you to address any potential issues with food quality. There's nothing worse than someone waiting until the end of the meal to be asked for the first time if "everything is OK".

5 Food quality People come to restaurants to eat and enjoy food, therefore it's essential the quality is up to standard. This doesn't mean your restaurant needs to start serving Michelin-starred cuisine, it simply means don't let food get served that you wouldn't eat yourself.

You can enhance customers' perceptions of value for money by ensuring food is always well presented on the plate and carefully placed in front of the customer.

6Quality of glasses Dirty glass - dirty location! The presentation of the glasses drinks are served in tells a customer all they need to know about your hygiene standards. Water marks, streaks, lipstick marks and fibres from tea towels all impact the quality and perception that your customers will have of their drinks.

Simple touches, like ensuring glasses are clean and giving them a quick run through a glass rinser before pouring the drink will instantly add to the customers' experience.

7Friendly farewells Don't let your customers sneak out without being able to say thank you and good bye to them. A friendly farewell will create a positive lasting impression of your location and shows that you value their custom. This is vital when you have new or infrequent customers visiting during the festive period.

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