The Simple Way Restaurants Can Keep Guests Happy, According To A New Survey

"The customer is always right." You've probably heard that phrase in one form or another at a restaurant somewhere. It refers to the idea that the customer is a guest at their establishment and, just as any host would make a guest feel welcome, the restaurant will do anything they can to ensure the satisfaction of the customer. 

Keeping the customer happy, however, is a job easier said than done. According to Nation's Restaurant News, some customers are beginning to feel that — despite massive overhauls in sanitation due to COVID-19 concerns — cleanliness in restaurants is beginning to slip. Positive sentiments about cleanliness in full-service restaurants, for example, had decreased by 13%. Even worse, according to Forbes, the trend of labor shortages, rising food prices, and supply chain issues will continue well beyond 2022.

What can be done for restaurants to ensure customer satisfaction? According to some sources, restaurants don't need to look very far to find out what they need to do to keep their customers happy. In fact, the answer is already right in front of them: their workers.

People want friendly and attentive staff

It would seem that what people want at a restaurant isn't anything fancy or elaborate but instead friendly and welcoming staff alongside high-quality and delicious food. In short, they want the essential restaurant experience — at least, according to Adam Leff.

Adam Leff is the co-founder of Merchant Centric, an online reputation management source and solution provider. Merchant Centric measured that there was a noticeable decline in customer satisfaction in the hospitality service (via QSR Magazine). Using the site's data, Leff was able to notice two trends: customers expected attentive, helpful staff and were quick to turn away from restaurants with frustrated or unhelpful staff members. By simply improving staff demeanor and morale, customers would be more willing to spend time at the establishment. Providing high-quality food, Leff also adds, will help encourage patrons to spend a little more money — getting their bang for their buck, sort to speak.

A good example of such a business model is Chick-Fil-A. Per Business Insider, the chicken restaurant dominates customer satisfaction in the fast food market, holding an impressive score of 84 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The chain made $5.8 billion in 2021 alone, according to Franchise Times, a good indicator of how successful its model is. If Chick-Fil-A is one of the most trusted restaurants, perhaps it'll be a surprise to see which restaurant in America is the least trusted.