About a year ago, a new restaurant opened on the way to my office. Cafe Bahar, which specializes in Indian and tandoori dishes, already has quite a following in the city. It is a chain of restaurants that was established in the middle of the 20th century, and has maintained its quality of food. I decided to give it a shot with my family.
The restaurant has two sections – one for takeaway and one for dining in. We decided to opt for takeaway, and ordered our food with the usual instructions (less spicy). The food turned out to be delicious. What struck me was that the manager took the trouble of overseeing our order to ensure that the cook did not add a lot of spice. The chain conducts an overwhelming volume of business every day, and yet takes care of every single customer as if they were the sole reason for their (the chain’s) existence.
It is often seen that businesses, in their bid to get new customers, tend to overlook the repeat ones. It is not often that you go to a place the second or third time, and they remember you, and what you had ordered in your last visit.
It is understandable that to get repeat customers, businesses need to get new customers. But, there has to be a balance. Once a restaurant has a decent number of customers walking in, it would be prudent to pay attention to repeat customers. After all, they will talk about the customer service, and word-of-mouth still remains the most potent marketing tool.
Cafe Bahar does an amazing job of this. They always remember to make our dishes non-spicy, and from our second visit, they started giving me some side dishes free. In fact, when the price of onions sky rocketed, they stopped giving them as sides to other customers, but never forgot to give me extra (onions are a preferred accompaniment with most Indian dishes).
The fourth time around, they asked me what I did for a living, how long have I been married, and always asked me about my better half, in addition to enquiring how our day was!
We have lost count of the number of times we have visited that place and every time, they never fail to surprise me. Not once have I left the place without a smile on my face. Cafe Bahar is a big restaurant, and they make time to take care of their repeat customers. It is a small act, but it has got me writing a whole article about it.
There are a number of ways in which you can take care of repeat customers. I have written about some of them here.
It is easy to confuse wonderful service with satisfactory service. To stand out, your service needs to be exceptional. Making your customers feel special will ensure they come back, again and again.
Never promise too much
Always under-promise and over-deliver. If you set expectations very high right from the start, nothing you do will impress them. Instead, set reasonable standards, and then surprise them!
Always keep them in the loop
Always have something of value to communicate with your customers. Sending a message asking them how they are doing is highly unprofessional. Find out the most suitable means of communication, and keep them informed of various developments.