Get a Demo
Under 10 Employees?Shop Starter Kit
Restaurant customer service

How to Offer Stellar Restaurant Customer Service

Katherine BaxterAuthor

The very first restaurants were built with the idea of customer service. Today, restaurant customer service is not only your foundation but a necessity to see success among the competition.

The American Express 2017 Customer Service Barometer found that Americans tell an average of fifteen people about a poor service experience – meaning good restaurant customer service is key.

In the modern restaurant world, customer service has evolved from the reactive apologies to giving your guests what they want before they ask you for it. 

Here are seven restaurants that have mastered the art of customer satisfaction.

1. Fostering Social Engagement

Who: Dunkin’ Donuts

What: Taking to social media to engage with both satisfied and dissatisfied customers

Where: Nationwide

Hi Alexa! We're so sorry to hear about your visit! Please DM us so we can help make this right. ^GS

— Dunkin' Donuts (@dunkindonuts) July 23, 2018

How it displays great restaurant customer service: Dunkin’ Donuts has a very loyal following, and they raise the bar by responding to each and every tweet they get from customers who message them – especially when an experience wasn't particularly the best.

They take the time to let their customers feel heard, respected, and provide them the opportunity for a better experience. Does Dunkin’ Donuts need to do right by every angry tweeter to survive as a business? Certainly not, but they put their customers first.

2. Owning the Errors

Who: The Daily Brew

What: Reimbursing customers and recognizing mistakes

Where: Cape Cod

How it displays great restaurant customer service: The Daily Brew is a fast casual concept serving hundreds of customers a day coming in to grab their morning coffee and a breakfast sandwich. The staff takes your order, makes it in the back, and calls our your name to send you on your way, hot food in hand.

With this type of business model, people occasionally receive the wrong order, only to realize it when they get home. While an understandable mistake, The Daily Brew goes above and beyond to show their remorse.

In fact, recently visiting the Daily Brew, I received the wrong order and made it known to the staff, who gave their deep apologies and gave me my correct order. When I got home, I had a Facebook message from the staff expressing how sorry they were and a gift card for my next visit.

Talk about going above and beyond!

3. Forming Layered Relationships

Who: Eastern Standard

What: Restaurateur Garrett Harker has been mindful in creating a personalized experience for each customer in any of his Boston restaurants

Where: Boston

what is customer service

How it displays great restaurant customer service: Harker opened his first restaurant ten years ago incorporating layered guest relations into his restaurant group’s core philosophy. “We are constantly thinking about going deeper with our guests, that getting to know them and them getting to know us creates enduring long-term growth…” Harker told Forbes.

What is a layered relationship? Servers in Harker’s restaurants are encouraged to jot down notes into their POS about each table they served. How did they like their steak? Any allergies?

When that customer returns, the server can refresh their memory on the details of the customer and personalize their experience. The "home away from home" feeling increases the level of comfort while continuously improving restaurant operations for the business leaving customers excited to return.

4. Treating Customers like Family

Who: Halls Chophouse
What: Hall Restaurant Group has a business model that revolves around listening and thanking customers – and their customer reviews reflect that.
Where: Charleston

restaurant customer service examples

How it displays great restaurant customer service: Halls Chophouse is highly-reviewed on its traditional service where employees go above and beyond to create the magical experience of what it means to go out to dinner.

Halls servers are expecting you as you walk in, remember you from last time, and do whatever necessary to perfect your experience. It’s common to have six employee coverage on a five-person table at Halls. Owner Bill Hall said to the Charleston Business Journal, “Focus on customer service and the product, send handwritten thank-you notes to customers, listen to employees’ concerns and ideas…”


Guide to the Restaurant Guest

Learn how to navigate changing guest expectations during and after the COVID-19 health crisis.


5. Surprise and Delight!

Who: Rose’s Luxury 
What: Surprising guests with free dishes
Where: Washington, DC

customer service

How it displays great restaurant customer service: Among Rose’s Luxury’s most frequent guests, surprise dishes are what keeps them coming back for more. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and even just a date night are all celebrated at Rose’s Luxury with a surprise dish keeping guests on their toes for what’s to come at their next visit.

6. Serving Thoughtful Food

Who: Dig Inn
What: Making changes in food system reduction, sustainability, and menu choices
Where: Boston and New York

restaurant customer service

How it displays great restaurant customer service: According to Forbes, 85% of millennials reported that it’s important to be engaged in work that gives back to the community – and that’s exactly the purpose of Dig Inn’s mission. Dig Inn’s idea of restaurant customer service is committing to the idea of providing delicious harvest bowls while showing their customers that they give back.

Dig Inn makes a conscious effort to reduce carbon emissions, sustain a farming future and support local farmers through their dig inn farms across the country.

7. Recognizing Generational Differences

Who: Honeygrow
What: Utilizing latest restaurant technology to limit guest wait times
Where: Philly-based and rapidly expanding nationwide

restaurant customer service

How it displays great restaurant customer service: Self-ordering kiosks aren’t what your parents or grandparents would consider as strong restaurant customer service, but millennials who have phones in their hands and headphones in the ears want the power to make a customizable, healthy meal.

Justin Rosenberg, Founder & CEO of Honeygrow, wanted to use self-ordering kiosks to empower customers to still be able customize their orders while using technology.

“This type of model can’t be like Chipotle, because it’s less assembly line and more made to order — more like Shake Shack or Starbucks where you order and wait because we’re making it for you,” Rosenberg said to Hospitality Technology.

Rosenberg adapted what service means to different generations in the restaurant space and implemented self-ordering kiosks into his forward-thinking restaurant concept.

How is Your Restaurant's Customer Service?

All restaurants intend to have strong customer service running through their veins as a new business, but the question has now become, how do you stand out in comparison?

The industry is becoming rapidly more saturated and customers are overwhelmed with options. Put extra love and thought into your customers and they’ll bring their friends and family next time they dine out.

Learn what customer service means to your guests in our latest Restaurant Technology Report.

Related Restaurant Operations Resources

Is this article helpful?

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.