Increasingly demanding consumers and ever-growing competition make offering top-notch customer service a “must” for restaurants. And with social media usage at a seemingly all-time high, it makes perfect sense for restaurant operators to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms to enhance the level of customer service they provide. Here’s how:
1. Solicit feedback: Your Facebook page and/or Twitter feed is the perfect place to ask customers what they think of your business and how you might improve it. They could tell you which menu item additions they would most like to see, how they liked a special menu item, what non-menu changes you might make – you name it. Post a response to all feedback, thanking customers for positive comments and noting how you will address issues raised in negative ones. Try to follow as many suggestions as possible–within reason, of course.
2. “Listen” in on social networking conversations: This is just as important—and effective— of a customer-service booster as soliciting feedback on social networking sites. Leverage an application like Hootsuite, ViralHeat, or Sendible to keep tabs on what consumers are saying about your restaurant on the various forms of social media. Implement accordingly any relevant suggestions or ideas gleaned from various comments.
3. Share information: Consumers perceive information-sharing of almost any type as a form of customer service. Use social networking platforms to update customers on new menu items and special offers. Leverage them to share recipes and helpful tips on everything from creative ways to serve particular takeout items from your establishment to choosing the right accompaniments (e.g., wine) for different foods.
As an adjunct to featuring your menu on your website, make it available as a tab on your restaurant’s Facebook page. Share snippets of it by posting content and photos there.
4. Foster information-sharing among customers: These days, making it easy for social media users to share information among themselves is also an element of customer service. Tools such as Digg’s WordPress Plugin allow customers to effortlessly share information and blog posts from your restaurant’s web page via Facebook and Twitter.
5. Convey offers: From “buy one, get one” promotions to freebies and rebates, deals are a great way to attract new patrons and cultivate loyalty among existing ones. Making these deals as easy as possible for consumers to find is an excellent means of improving your customer service. Most consumers look at social networking platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram several times daily—so showcasing them there is a savvy approach.
6. Establish tie-ins with loyalty programs: Reward customers with loyalty points or other incentives for “liking” your restaurant’s Facebook page, checking in there via Facebook or FourSquare, tagging and posting Instagram photos, and re-tweeting Twitter feeds.
Social media is not going away anytime soon. Given the amount of time consumers spend using it, restaurant owners would be remiss in neglecting to harness the power of Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Instagram and their ilk, not only to generate publicity for their establishments, but to provide a high level of customer service that sets them apart from competitors and positions them for growth.