The maxim that customers come first is one of the oldest in business, and most owners and managers would buy it as a solid rule of thumb for success. However, when it comes to front door management, customer-centric is not always the first phrase that comes to mind. “Cattle call” might be more like it.
Think about how a jam-packed, noisy waiting area feels to customers when the business has a clipboard-style manual waitlist. Not only are guests tethered to the host stand area for fear of missing their opportunity for a table, but they also have no idea how long they’ll be there – could be 15 minutes, could be 45.
They feel helpless, uncomfortable and uninformed – a dynamic not exactly conducive to developing warm-and-fuzzy feelings for any place of business.
Many businesses that have moved on from manual processes have adopted solutions that might free customers from the host stand but also eliminates their freedom of choice about how to be notified. It’s either “Here, take a pager,” or “Give me your phone number and we’ll text you.”
Well, what if you’d rather carry one device (your phone) instead of two (a phone and buzzer)? Or, what if the customer doesn’t want to be required to pay close attention to their phone while waiting, or is reluctant to give you his cell number? (About 7 percent of customers will refuse to give their number out of fear of marketing overload.) Shouldn’t you offer a choice?
Today’s Technology Frees Guests from the Host Stand Blues
Today’s wait list technology frees guests from the old waiting-around-the-host-stand doldrums and allows them to choose notification via classic restaurant pager or by SMS text to their phones. The host or hostess can easily enter guests’ details into a waitlist app, such as party size, smoking preference, and even accurately quote wait times.
With the added certainty that they’re on the list and will be notified with the method of their choice, guests are then free to wait at the bar, peruse nearby shops or even run a quick errand instead of staring at the host stand. All the while, they know they haven’t lost their spot in line, and they have a good estimate on their wait time.
When a table is available, communicating with guests takes just a few keystrokes (or a swipe on a tablet device). The host is never out of contact with patrons, and can send either a page or SMS text from the same app.
Guests who choose to remain in the waiting area will experience less chaos, congestion and noise. There’ll be no more shouting out guest names or disruptive and annoying PA announcements.
Putting customers first means delivering them from the tedium of a crowded waiting area, and doing so in a way that accommodates their own communication needs and preferences. By adopting a flexible solution allows both pagers and SMS texting to be operated from a single interface, you offer the best of both.
The customers will know they come first, and they’ll appreciate it.
Find Out More About New Technologies Enhance the Customer Experience
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Skip Cass is the chief executive officer at LRS and an expert in operational efficiency and creating a memorable guest experience.