What is a Restaurant Wheel?

After doing some research on the customer journey, I came across the hotel wheel a few months ago. From there I realized that any company has a wheel which indicates the customer’s journey from the first interaction right through to the follow ups and customers returning. Therefore, a restaurant should also have a wheel that indicates the customer’s journey.

Here is the restaurant wheel as Travelling Mystery Guest sees it:

Restaurant Wheel by TMG

Restaurant Wheel by TMG

  1. Internet researchCustomers choose restaurants on recommendation from friends on Facebook or Twitter, from websites like EatOut, Food24 and so forth and make final decisions from other platforms like TripAdvisor, Hello Peter and reviews on the restaurant’s pages like Facebook and Google+.
  2. Booking – From there the booking is made, and here the customer makes his / her first acquaintance with the restaurant. This means that even the person on telephone duty has a huge responsibility regarding customer experience.
  3. Directions – A part of the customer journey that is often neglected. Customers expect to find proper directions to the destination. This means that restaurants need to provide the destination’s address on all of their internet pages, and even better, be on Google Places / Google Maps in order for customers to find the destination without any trouble.
  4. Arrival Customers expect to be welcomed and that, especially when they have booked, the restaurant is prepared for their arrival.
  5. The visit – This section can be discussed in a whole lot of detail (consider joining Travelling Mystery Guest for an in depth workshop on the Restaurant Wheel). This is where waiters and the restaurant really need to impress, as it is now not only about the communication, but also about the taste, the atmosphere, the timing, the staff’s knowledge, the restaurant’s image and the overall customer experience.
  6. Departure – Many restaurants tend to neglect this part of the wheel, even though it is still important. Customers want to be invited back and they want the opportunity to say something about their If restaurants don’t ask, they probably wouldn’t know if guests had enjoyed the experience or not.
  7. Follow up – Not many restaurants do this, as they don’t always have the customers’ contact details (except if the customer has made a booking). Still, follow-ups are very important, even if it is done universally via social media. This also gives you the opportunity to learn more about current trends and expectations among your fans.

To book a Travelling Mystery Guest workshop on the Restaurant Wheel, contact Renate: enquire@travellingmystery.co.za / 082 336 1562.

We want to know the story

Isn’t it true that you always want to know the story of the destination you visit? I want to know where the restaurant’s name came from, where the photos on the wall were taken and who the old “tannie” was who’s recipe is used in the signature dish.

We all want to know.

One place that got the message loud and clear is OJ’s, a small, quaint restaurant that could easily be mistaken for a take-away shop on route through one of the Freestate towns, Heilbron. From the outside it doesn’t promise much, but believe you me, on the inside it’s a completely different story – literally.

Do you remember the time when all South African cars had yellow coloured number plates? The time when towns could still be identified just by looking at one’s car? Well, that is where OJ’s’ story begins. OJ was Heilbron’s number plate code. Today these number plates are part of the name and décor in one of Heilbron’s finest restaurants. It tells stories of days gone by and paintings of old cars with OJ number plates hang proudly against the walls. The menu has also been carefully planned – catering for the farming community that it is, but also for those who appreciate that extra touch. Still, the community can identify with its story, which is why many of them will keep coming back.

OJ's

OJ’s

Tips on how to tell your story:

  • Use the town’s history as a theme and a timeline.
  • Involve the community.
  • Be creative and use old things to create new things.
  • Include the theme in your décor, your name and your menu items.
  • Add items to the menu which you know the community will enjoy and then just give it an extra touch to make it look more appealing.

So…what is your restaurant or destination’s story?

Restaurants: You’ve got to be consistent

I love visiting new restaurants. There’s a certain sense of excitement to not knowing what to expect. Still, like any customer, I always expect a certain standard when it comes to customer service and the customer journey. Things like a friendly welcome, knowledge about the menu and the correct table settings are a few of the expectations that any normal customer would have.

The other day I was served a compliment in a cup at an upper-class restaurant in Hyde Park – something different to what I expected and which made me feel like the most important customer on the floor. Neatly written in the foam on top were the words: “Nice earrings. You’re beautiful.” My mom was in the area and I called her. “You’ve got to come and have a cappuccino with me!” I said, convinced that her cup would be filled with a compliment too. Unfortunately, when her cup arrived, it looked like any other normal cappuccino from an ordinary restaurant. Needless to say… I was bummed.

Compliment in a cup

Compliment in a cup

Which brings me back to the topic at hand: Be consistent!

Customers like something different, but they want to know that they will receive either the same service or better service the next time around. That’s just how it is. I expected another compliment, or at least one for my mom, and got none. Wouldn’t you expect that too?

What do Restaurants need to be consistent on then?

  • Friendliness – there’s no use in welcoming one customer with a smile and the next with a frown.
  • Food and drink – customers expect food and drinks to look like on the menu. Keep it that way.
  • Timing – When you serve one customer’s meal within less than 10 minutes, the others would expect that too. You’d better keep up the pace then.
  • Small things – When one cup of coffee is served with a bevnap and the other one not, it is not consistency. Same goes for glasses without straws, bills without mints or cappuccinos without biscotti (if that’s your trademark).

Can you think of any other things that you’ve noticed restaurants slip up with regarding consistency?

How to identify customer expectations

How do you use social media to identify your customers’ expectations?

Travelling Mystery

Even though customers tend to change and not one customer seems to be the same, they also make things easier for us in terms of identifying their expectations. We just have to learn to identify it. How?

You would have noticed by now that many companies have employed social media managers who are responsible for communicating with customers via platforms like Facebook and Twitter. And it doesn’t stop there. Then came LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest…and Instagram and Flickr and I whatever else. The point is…customers communicate via social media. Not just with companies, but also with friends and family. They share stories and ideas via links on Facebook, they mention good (or bad) reviews on Twitter with creative accompanying hashtags and they create dream boards on Pinterest. What does this have to do with identifying customer expectations? Well…let’s look at a few…

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