I read this the other day on a LinkedIn post – the writer had substituted ‘they’ for customer. A customer may forget what you said but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. Wise words I thought!

And it’s so true, customers go to restaurants for all sorts of reasons.

  • Eat and drink
  • Socialise
  • Have a meeting
  • Use the Wi-Fi (but that’s another story)

No matter why a customer’s in a restaurant, how the owner, manager and waiter makes them feel is very important. Particularly in this day and age when so much interaction takes place with a computer or phone screen. I would suggest that it’s doubly important to make people feel good when you engage with them face to face.

Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) suggested that there is a link between facial expressions and emotions.

So how can you read someone’s face? Well, when you smile you’re expressing happiness and joy. Happy to welcome customers and pleased they’re in your restaurant. Easy to do and a good start to great customer service.

WAITER TIP: Smile because a smile goes a mile!

As a front of house staff it’s part of your job to ‘work out’ how your customers are feeling and to know if you’re making them happy or angry! It’s often quite difficult to recognise how someone’s feeling, especially if they’re not a relative or close friend.

But by being able to easily identify facial expressions you’ll be a lot closer to knowing how your customers are feeling. So what facial expressions should you look out for to help you do this?

  • Sadness – jaw up, bottom lip down, not an easy expression to fake. So if a customer is looking sad, then a kind word might be just what they are hoping for.
  • Contempt – a corner of the mouth rising in a sneer. I hope you don’t see too many sneers of contempt in your restaurant. A polite suggestion that they are in the wrong venue may be in order.
  • Disgust – eyes narrowed, nose scrunched, and upper lip curled. Make sure you recognise this one. A look of disgust may indicate that the food is not up to scratch and a fast intervention will be required.
  • Surprise – eyebrows up, eyes wide. Often an expression of sheer delight in a restaurant offering beautiful food. Acknowledge the surprise gratefully.
  • Fear – wrinkles in the forehead, lower eyelids drawn up, nostrils flared. Maybe a warning that a disaster is about to happen, be alert.
  • Anger – lowered eyebrows, staring eyes, mouth drawn down at the corner. A definite “I can see you’re not happy, sir.” And offer to jump over the moon to make it right.

Great customer service is not just about putting food on a table it’s about making your customers happy. And happy customers mean better online review which in turn leads to …………… well, you know, don’t you?

Make use of the Simply Service Waiter Training Facial Expression Flash Cards to help your waiters identify how their customers are feeling. www.simplygreatservice.com

WAITER TIP: Listen hard and look carefully.


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