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Restaurants spend countless dollars curating marketing messages for billboards, TV spots and online ads. Unfortunately, few make as great an investment in another critical communication channel. If you’ve been neglecting customer service as a key marketing tool, learn why you’re making a big mistake.

What’s the Point of Marketing?

According to a study by Genesys, poor customer service costs companies at least $83 billion each year. While the study included businesses from a variety of industries, you can bet the food and beverage sector is no exception.

Restaurateurs spend a lot of time thinking of ways attracting new customers, without giving enough thought to cultivating guest loyalty. This can lead to a revolving door situation, where new customers are constantly needed to replace unsatisfied guests.

Most companies regard marketing as an overall strategy for attracting new customers and expanding brand awareness. In reality, marketing is about one thing: making more money. If you accept this premise, then it’s clear good customer service should be a part of your overall marketing plan, especially when you consider the following:

  • A restaurant’s guest rate-of-return increases from 20 percent to 80 percent when satisfaction rates are higher.
  • The typical happy customer will tell at least nine people about his or her experience.
  • For every one unhappy guest who complains, another 26 remain silent.
  • Angry customers tend to talk more about their experiences compared to happy ones.
  • Recurring happy customers tend to spend more than brand new customers lured in by ads.
  • Customers are willing to pay more at venues that offer exceptional customer service.

Investing in Outreach

Obviously, good customer service should start at the door and continue to the table. At the same time, restaurateurs need to engage with customers online through dining apps, review sites and social media platforms. Complaints should always be taken seriously and greeted with a courteous, empathetic response. Negative sentiment should be dealt with quickly to keep potentially destructive threads from gaining momentum. Anger, hostility and hurt feelings must be checked at the door to help diffuse explosive situations. Most importantly, restaurateurs must work hard to engage customers, not just with clever ads, but with a personalized approach that demonstrates a genuine desire and intent to improving the customer experience.