Customer Communication Checklist for Restaurants During the Pandemic

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Over the past few months we’ve been forced to reevaluate everything about our industry, and many restaurants have had to switch to only offering pick-up and delivery for customers. But as you make the switch, here are a few questions to keep in mind:

Communicate to customers that you are open.

This is extremely important right now when a lot of restaurants are closing. Many of your customers may assume you are completely closed, and if you did close temporarily, they may not realize you have reopened. Are you clearly communicating your open status? Have your hours been updated on your website, social media, and Google My Business profile

Remember that not all of your customers follow you on social media. That means just hitting “post” isn’t enough. Consider creating a social media ad that targets your local neighbourhood to let everyone in the area know that you are open, and how customers can place an order. Reach out to local business associations, and have them spread the word as well. Many local residents are stepping up, and creating lists of open restaurants in neighbourhood Facebook groups. Make sure your restaurant makes the list. 

Ensure customers know how to place an order.

No matter the circumstances, it’s always important to educate your customers on how they can place take-out and delivery orders with you. Update your customers with any changes, and ensure they can easily order through the channels you’ve provided, such as:

  • Phone-in orders: Ensure your current menu is available on your website, and your phone number is clearly displayed, and “clickable.”
  • Order online through your website: Is it easy to find, and easy to use? Use this audit to go through your online ordering site with an eagle eye and fix any errors you find. 
  • Third-parties like Skip the Dishes, or Doordash: Make sure to optimize your listing on their sites, and promote your presence on the apps to your customer base. 
  • Other order methods: While the three methods above are the most popular, your restaurant may choose to accept orders through email or social media messages. If so, communicate that clearly to your customers, and ensure your menu is in an easily accessible place online. 

Keep customers informed about how you’re keeping them safe.

First, ensure you have a process for keeping your customers safe during food prep, take-out, and delivery. Then, inform your customers of what that plan is. Your customers are trying to keep themselves safe and healthy, and knowing which restaurants prioritize food safety is a big part of their decision about where to order from. 

Have you taken any specific COVID-19 related food-safety courses? Are you offering contactless pick-up and delivery? Share this information with your customers on social media and on your website to give them peace of mind about ordering from you.

Let customers know how pick up and deliveries will work.

Before your customers place their order, they should know what to expect for deliveries and pick-ups. Even if your process hasn’t changed, be prepared to explain it in detail.

  • Pick-up: Tell customers whether they should wait inside or outside, and where to stand in line or park. Ensure your pick-up location is clearly marked, and remind customers to stay six feet from other customers and your staff. Many businesses have labelled where customers should stand in line with six-foot increments using tape or branded stickers on the floor, or sidewalk chalk outside. Some restaurants are bringing pickup orders out and placing them on the hood of the car.
  • Delivery: Keep customers informed during the entire delivery process. If you offer contactless delivery, inform your customers how to request it, and how it works. This means directing customers to prepay online or by phone, to use their own pens to sign receipts (or you may waive signing), and to wait until the delivery driver has stepped away from the food to pick it up.

In times of crisis, clear communication is critical. Your customers aren’t expecting business as usual, so even if that’s the case, you need to clearly communicate your restaurant’s delivery and take out processes to them. 

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