Achieving Customer Loyalty in Restaurant Businesses
There are many restaurants but we keep going back to only few of them: due to two equally important parts: food quality and service quality. Many restaurants can achieve food quality but unfortunately, not many restaurants are achieving service quality. If service quality is achieved, restaurants can achieve customer loyalty. However, achieving a customized service quality is not easy. It requires an investment in training staff, an ongoing customer study, and a continuous commitment.
Achieving Customer Loyalty in Restaurant Businesses
When Kotler Philip (2003), in his book “Marketing Insights From A to Z: 80 Concepts Every Manager Needs to Know,” wrote that in today’s world, one of the serious problems the businesses are facing is not ‘a shortage of goods’ but ‘a shortage of customers’ (P. XI), he raised one of the important issues which are problematic for businesses in the world. Of course, the customers did not become less in quantitative number but rather the businesses fighting over the customer segmentations have risen several times. And this is extra true for services, especially restaurant businesses. In our lives, we enter a countless number of restaurants, talk about different kinds of them in our topics, and sometimes suggest this or that one. And there are a few people who don’t go for a bigger number of restaurants. They enjoy a few of them and stick to them. And if you ask them why, their answer will be in two equally important parts: the food quality is excellent and the service quality is excellent. Many restaurants can achieve food quality but unfortunately, not many restaurants are achieving service quality. If the service quality is achieved, if it is personalized according to individual customer’s likes and preferences, then the restaurant can achieve a customer loyalty and ensure his or her come back. However, achieving a customized service quality is not an easy task and does not happen in a short period of time. It requires from restaurants an investment in the training of restaurant staff, an ongoing customer study, and a continuous commitment.
Even the research environment into the study of the topic aggress with the above statement. According to Syed and Conway, (2006), the customer satisfaction is influenced most by the responsiveness of the frontline employees, followed by price and food quality (in that order). On the other hand, the authors discovered that the physical design and appearance of the restaurant did not have a significant effect. Whether this also applies to Uzbekistan case or not is a question of a personal investigation.
Today, restaurants have opened up throughout Tashkent city like mushrooms after rain. And they hire any kind of waiters and waitresses and do not invest in their training. In some restaurants, the waiter/waitress does not even know the names of dishes. For example, in one restaurant situated in Sergili district, which name I don’t even remember, the waiter had confused our orders and brought different dishes. We lost our appetite, we were angry, and we decided to never come to that restaurant again. One of our company was so angry that he even wanted to put a sign near restaurant which says “Do not Enter: Service Terrible.”
Not all restaurants are like that, of course. There are some restaurants which put very competitive hiring criteria in their employment. And even after hiring some excellent candidates, they invest in training them further. Let’s take Studio restaurant in Mirobod district. The waiters/waitresses are in instant readiness when customers arrive. They welcome from the door, guide to the table, correct the chairs, and wait for customers to comfortably sit down. Also, they frequently check on them and change the ashtray or used plates and dispose of any used paper tissues or napkins. The table is clean at all times. In my personal experiences, during those times of clean table and excellent service in addition to quality food, I felt satisfaction, peace, and maximum utility to the high price which I was paying. I often go to that play.
The achievement of quality service is not solely dependent on the waiters and waitresses. They may observe customers which they serve and make conclusions based on it. But this knowledge will be very limited. Therefore, the restaurant administration must engage in customer study activities. For example, on regular bases, the waiters/waitresses must be interviewed on their opinion regarding the customer preferences and likes. In addition to this, there must be established a customer feedback activities.
Finally, the achievement of service quality must be supported by a continuous commitment. The Anzor restaurant situated in Mirobod district can be a good example here in the case where if the commitment is not continuous, the service quality may be achieved at different times and this will cause the customer not to come back again. Last year, I had an experience there. Among the dishes, the “French Meat” as called the dish was excellent but personally, I like meat when a little overcooked. After two days, I went there again and specifically requested that the meat was a little overcooked, which they did. With music and good service, I enjoyed my experience. But I went there a third time too, in the next week. This time, the waitress brought the meat not a little overcooked even though I specifically requested. I discovered that the waitress had forgotten about it. It took a lot of time for my meat to go back and to be a little overcooked. By that time, I had drunk a lot of coke and lost my appetite. I haven’t gone to that place ever since that experience.
Perhaps a loss of one customer for a restaurant is not noticeable when they service for tens of customers every day. But as Mr. Kotler said, there is a problem of ‘a shortage of customers’. When the competition among the restaurants is very high, even one customer becomes unavoidably important. Therefore, in order to become successful, the restaurants must make an investment in the training of waiters/waitresses, engage in an ongoing customer study, and demonstrate a continuous commitment.
Harbaugh, R. (2002), “Proven lessons for generating good customer response rates”, Marketing and Media, Vol. 37 No. 10, pp. 70 – 5
Miranda Morley, Demand Media, (2012), What Are Examples of Good Service in the Restaurant Industry? Small Business Chron, available at: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-good-service-restaurant-industry-38058.html, Last accessed on April 26, 2012
Syed Saad Andaleeb, Carolyn Conway, (2006) "Customer satisfaction in the restaurant industry: an examination of the transaction-specific model", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 20 Iss: 1, pp.3 – 11