Take The Call: Restaurant Contact Center & Communications Best Practices

A stellar restaurant call center is your gateway to effectively communicating with restaurant guests. Why not make it the best it can be? After all, You Don’t Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression.

Client, Farmers Restaurant Group, has taken restaurant communications in the food service industry to new heights. Our team has worked closely with their restaurant Contact Center managers to develop a winning strategy, optimizing call specialist + guest interaction. Oftentimes, the deciding factor if the guest makes a reservation. Or not.

Meaghan O’Shea, Vice President of Marketing & Communications, and her team shed some light on facilitating FRG’s Contact Center success. Julie Sharkey, Marketing Manager, spearheaded the development and early days of their restaurant communications system. While Ariana Statham, Contact Center Manager, seamlessly picked up the baton from Julie and oversees the Contact Center’s now 20-member team.

Three years later, here’s what they’ve learned.

Restaurant Contact Center 101.

With 45,000-50,000 calls a month across all FRG restaurants, technology, training, and foresight are key. Innovative technology and restaurant communication devices, such as iPads and Apple Watches, allow for direct and instant communication with each store. Training materials are a top priority. They recommend updating training document regularly, using the same material for each store, ensuring streamlined information and directives at every turn.

Working Model.

Explore and implement strategies that work best for your business. For the FRG team, that means a proven restaurant wireless communications system. “Using a cloud-based VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system with OpenTable acts as an extension of the Front Desk to answer calls,” says Ariana. Working call center models should include specialists proficient in processing: reservations, group/special requests, credit card authorizations, To Go orders, guest feedback, providing directions, answering guest inquiries, and the like.

Team Training.

Concise, consistent training is essential for call center specialists to successfully engage with and gather vital guest information, such as:

  • Guest first and last name
  • Date and time of dining
  • Phone number/e-mail address for direct contact/follow-up
  • Any special requests/accommodations/allergy info, etc.

Information should be placed into a running database for loyalty programs and targeted personalized service. For Meaghan, Julie, and Ariana, OpenTable is their database of choice. “We’re able to maintain guest/reservation info, special requests, and feedback,” Julie says.

Who’s Who at the Restaurant Call Center?

“We look for team members who are going to give the best guest service at all times,” says Meaghan. Personality, patience, and problem solving skills are assets.

As your business grows, the first impression your call specialist offers a guest is vital, not only for gathering valuable information/feedback, but also in making an enduring personal connection.