Business Insight
Image of lady serving pizza

Customer Service Vs Customer Experience – Are You Delivering On Both?

CUSTOMER SERVICE is an important element that you need to get right, but it’s just one component of the overall customer experience.

If your staff think of customer service as a simple list of do’s and don’ts, that may be a good basic guide to follow, but it may fall short of giving the customer the experience that they’re looking for and, most importantly, that will keep them coming back.

The key to delivering on customer experience as opposed to simply customer service is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes – try to understand what they are seeking from the overall experience. That way you can make them feel valued and build distinctive relationships with them.

Here are some suggestions as to how you can ensure your customer’s experience is all that it should be:

1. Get to know your customers

As a foodservice operator you need to get to know your customers and have an awareness of their interests, aspirations and tastes. Customer surveys can help to get some of this information, as can setting up a Facebook page for your business and reading the posts your customers place on it. You could also trial a limited-time promotion linked to a survey.

2. Ensure your staff are engaged

It’s imperative that your staff are engaged and committed to delivering a top-notch experience for your customers. So consider how best to achieve this: you could conduct regular team-building activities or special events, encourage staff to provide suggestions on how service could be improved, or run internal mentorship programs for new staff members. By showing staff members that you value their input and acknowledge the important contribution they make to your business, they will be more engaged and motivated to do their best.

3. Provide a personalised experience

Market research consistently shows that customers are looking for personalised dining experiences and foodservice businesses that cater specifically to their preferences, as shown in surveys like this one from Open Table ( This can be as simple as remembering regular customers’ names, favourite meals and drinks orders, and/or making meal suggestions in accord with their specific dietary preferences. You should also train staff to make eye contact with customers and be attentive to their wishes, without being overbearing.

4. Promptly respond to customer concerns

Customer concerns and complaints are an inevitable part of any business, and the way you handle them dictates whether or not the customer will leave satisfied. So whenever there is a concern or complaint, the first step is to listen to the customer carefully, take what they say seriously and do whatever you can to alleviate it. Make sure you understand exactly what their concern is before you try to rectify it, and then do whatever you can to do so. Remember the aim is always to solve the problem so the customer leaves happy and comes back.

5. Always ask the customer if they enjoyed their experience

It can be difficult during busy service periods, but wherever possible, the manager should strive to visit each table personally and ask customers how they enjoyed their dining experience at the conclusion of their meal. This gives customers the chance to provide frank feedback and makes them feel valued. It also provides you with an opportunity to rate the table staff, quality of service and their level of satisfaction with the food.