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Create the perfect at-table experience

This is your chance to shine, and I’m not talking about the cutlery.

Exceeding guest expectations by upping your service standards and creating a memorable at-table experience is a sure way to achieve positive online reviews, loyal guests, and increased business. From listening to your guests and applying their feedback to your operational service standards, and adding a touch of WOW, you will be able to reach that 5/5 star rating.

Ask – Listen – Act

It is always surprising the information you can learn, when you simply ask the questions you need answers to, and as recently reported, 68% of restaurant guests will share their feedback when asked. To better understand how your restaurant brand’s service is perceived, try the following tactics:

  1. Instagram Story Poll – effective for collecting data from your engaged audience
  2. Email survey to a guest database using SurveyMonkey’s free platform
  3. Printed questionnaire that can be inserted into the bill fold
  4. Staff questionnaire to help identify any gaps in the service level perception

Be sure to compare the data between your guests and your team’s feedback; it will be clear where the opportunities
exist to up your service game.

Questions to consider:

  • What is your service culture?
  • Does your current level of service align with the restaurant brand?
  • Is your team delivering on this?

Creating unique brand experiences that drive guests through your front doors is more important than ever in attracting a share of the plate.

Train for Gold

Like training for the restaurant Olympics, your management and staff have to dedicate themselves to following the service standards and team commitments designed to achieve your restaurant experience, beyond training day. Pre-shift meetings led by managers are a great opportunity to keep the key points of service top of mind:

  • Review daily menu specials in detail
  • Check the wine or cocktail features that are brand priorities
  • Discuss reservations and larger party bookings
  • Review staff on deck that day
  • Discuss guest experiences
  • Create an open forum for team questions

Sharing guest feedback with the entire team can help with role accountability, act as a reminder of the service standards, and provide staff with an opportunity to help resolve any negative guest reviews collaboratively.

Dine-ertain ME

The popularity of online food ordering and delivery apps, coupled with hectic consumer schedules, has resulted in 59 percent of all foodservice meals now being consumed off restaurant premises, according to a recent study by Technomic. Creating unique brand experiences that drive guests through your front doors is more important than ever in attracting a share of the plate.

Get Techy

From a recent Instagram poll, 69% of respondents shared that they are more impressed with service standards when their server is using a tablet or mobile device in placing the order. There is a perception that the order is placed more quickly and accurately. Restaurant tabletop tablets are also one of most effective ways to protect guests from credit card fraud, as they are equipped with an on-tablet EMV card reader so the guest’s card remains at the table. Convenience and improved safety can be a winning combination.

Customize and Tailor

From build-your-own bowls to pizzas and charcuterie boards, guests enjoy the fun of menu customization and being able to tailor dishes to suit their tastes and dietary needs. For example, a tableside cocktail cart offering infused liquors, a variety of mixes, and garnishes where the custom cocktail is curated on the spot can offer an interactive guest experience that is certainly memorable. The BYO trend is far from over; try incorporating elements into your bar program and menu offering where it is manageable.

Be Unique

From musically coordinated colour changing lighting, to 5D tabletop and wall experiences, hospitality brands are going bold and innovative in creating unique unforgettable brand touch points that improve the guest’s overall experience.

By all means, be unique, but stay on brand:

  • Interactive weekly events produce repeat guests
  • Live entertainment continues to win guest attendance
  • Loyalty incentives and valued guest recognition lead to repeat business
  • Guest engagement – 80% of guests like it when the restaurant team addresses them on a first name basis
  • Unexpected tableside moments – such as menu presentations and curated creations


At the end of the day, the key is to understand your guest’s expectations and how they align with your overall service offering and brand experience.


Written by Kate Engineer, Hospitality Consultant + Communications Expert

This article was published in Chef Connexion SS2020 Magazine, view HERE.