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    How to Improve Customer Experience in a Restaurant (& Why It Matters)

    Written by Joel Strulovitch

    The stats are in. Excellent service that leads to an overall positive customer experience is absolutely critical to a restaurant's bottom line. But knowing how to improve customer experience in a restaurant is about much more than simply the quality of the food or the drinks. It’s about the dining environment, too. While the meals naturally need to meet certain requirements (the details of which might differ depending on whether you're running a fast-casual restaurant or a fine dining establishment), they're not the ultimate deciding factor in customer satisfaction.

    As a matter of fact, experts point out that when it comes to customer satisfaction, what sets you apart from everyone else will ultimately be your customer service. They made these key findings:

    • A moderate increase in the Customer Experience generates an average revenue increase of $823 million over three years for a company with $1 billion in annual revenues.
    • A Harvard Business School researcher found that a one-star increase in a restaurant's Yelp rating correlated with a 5-9% increase in revenue.
    • 25 percent more people turn to consumer reviews on sites like OpenTable, Yelp, and TripAdvisor than those who rely on reviews by professional food critics.
    • In a textual analysis of more than 331,920 online reviews of more than 1,300 restaurant locations, "service" was the most frequently mentioned keyword.

    Customer service isn't just about having seamless systems and a well-trained wait staff.  Though those elements are certainly important, the quality of physical elements themselves is also critical. This includes everything from the lighting, color scheme, and layout, right down to the restaurant furniture itself. 

    Even something as simple as upgrading to high-quality booths could make a huge difference.

    Here's how.

    The Right Restaurant Layout Improves Customer Experience

    The value of the right restaurant layout to improve customer experience cannot be overstated. It will save you time, money, and frustration by making your staff's job easier and your diners happier.

    Efficiency

    The right layout is one that not only makes the most of your available space but also makes it easy for your staff to navigate quickly and easily. It has taken into consideration the space itself and how the flow will be affected throughout the cycle of a workday. Will the line you've designated for to-go orders snake through the dining room during peak hours? Will customers headed toward the restrooms bump into servers on their way out of the kitchen with heavy trays? 

    The right restaurant layout takes all these factors into consideration. 

    A layout that works well isn't something customers will pinpoint directly. But when it boosts your staff's efficiency, customers will definitely notice the difference because they'll be reaping the rewards. There will be fewer snafus, shorter wait times, and a more relaxed environment. 

    Flexibility

    In addition to boosting efficiency, a well-designed layout provides a wide variety of flexible seating configurations.

    While it may look visually pleasing to have a set number of identical tables lined up with matching chairs angled just-so, this set-up does not figure in single diners, couples wanting an intimate dinner, large parties celebrating major life events, and everything in-between. Therefore, a good layout is one that gives customers a wide array of seating choices for many occasions.

    Inclusivity

    There's also a high value in considering how you approach your accessible seating.

    Meeting the ADA requirements is a great place to start. However, a stellar layout is one that provides accessibility without making those who benefit from it feel as if they are being singled out or shunted into a corner. Accommodation to boost inclusivity is the bare minimum. A good layout will seek to foster emotional and relational inclusivity, too.

    It’s Worth Your Time

    Crowded restaurant with a variety of tables

    Maximizing your seating strategy is much more than another box to check off. It's an absolutely vital part of how to improve customer experience in a restaurant. 

    This sort of work may feel tedious on the front end. But in the long run, it's far too important to overlook. According to experts, "While the restaurant industry generated an impressive $799 billion in sales in 2017, 26% of first-year restaurants closed due to fierce competition in an already oversaturated market." The secret behind the success of the other 74% of new restaurants who survived was their ability to drive repeat business by creating the best experience possible.

    One way for you to leverage this same power is by improving your restaurant seating strategy. It’s a move that goes a long way toward adding value to the customer's overall experience. 

    The seating strategy is more than just configurations, however. It takes into account the quality of your restaurant furniture itself.

    The Right Furnishings Are Part of How to Improve Customer Experience in a Restaurant

    When it comes to improving customer experiences in your restaurant, you'll want to ensure that you invest in high-quality restaurant furniture.

    While chasing deals and sales may sound like it will save you money, such choices often end up costing more in the long run. For one thing, you'll have to invest a lot of time and energy into finding tables, chairs, and booths that match your ambiance and match each other.

    That often proves more difficult to pull off than you'd think, and you can't afford to get it wrong. It does you little good to save thousands of dollars on wholesale restaurant chairs, only to discover when they arrive that they don't match well with your table heights.

    Likewise, no deal in the world is worth ending up with cheap, poorly stacking chairs that wind up wobbling within six months. It doesn't matter whether your patrons are enjoying fine dining or fast-casual fare. If their chair wobbles when they shift their weight, it doesn't matter if they're leaning back to signal for the wine list or crossing their legs before reaching for a salt packet to sprinkle on their fries. They're going to be annoyed.

    And annoyed customers are the last thing you want. 

    Back to Basics

    It's best to start with the basics and move on from there when you’re deciding how to improve customer experience in a restaurant.

    For some of you, that might mean complete renovation. For others, you may already be close enough to your target customer experience goals, and a few quick tweaks will be all it takes to help you get there. Either way, we're here to help you reach the next level.

    At Moda Seating, we know that improving the dining experience always starts with getting the basics right.

    About Moda Seating

    Moda Seating is the pioneer of providing commercial seating online. Since 2008, Joel Strulovitch, the company’s founder, has been building upon his family’s tradition of providing quality commercial seating at affordable prices. Moda Seating has helped thousands of people achieve their dreams to open restaurants, hotels, event centers, and many other types of businesses where the patron’s experience is influenced by their physical environment.

    If you’re in the process of opening a restaurant or other type of venue where the experience of your customers will be influenced by the environment you provide, then rely on Moda Seating. No other commercial furniture wholesaler has been helping merchants online longer than we have. To help you get started, please download our free guide, 11 Steps to Successfully Open a Restaurant. And don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance. We’re happy to help!

    11 Steps to Successfully Open a Restaurant

    Tags: restaurant floor planning, restaurant renovation, restaurant tables, restaurant booths, ada compliance, customer experience