by: John Self

Like every facet of life, problems exist. But like a bad western when the hero comes rushing in to save the fair damsel, tools exist to help gun down those problems. Customer service is no exception.

Some customer service tools that may have been forgotten because they are so common, are important because they work. Many of these tools cost relatively little, with some requiring only an investment of time.

In fact, some of these may not even be thought to be tools, but I would disagree. Anything that can raise the bar of customer service is indeed a tool.

Internal Tools:

  • Mission statement – Do you have one? Do you know it? Is it still relevant? Often forgotten after being written, the mission statement can be a powerful tool to keep the company grounded.
  • Turnover – Do you keep track of this key indicator? This is a fantastic yardstick for measuring the satisfaction/loyalty of employees and management. Remember, new hire recruitment and training is expensive along with the drop in performance that usually occurs during this process.
  • Benefits – Is your benefit package comparable to other restaurants in your area? But today that isn’t enough. Today, you should ask if your benefits are comparable to local alternatives (not necessarily in restaurants) where your employees might also work? The New Mexico Restaurant Association has excellent options for you to provide benefits and perks to your employees to attract and retain quality staff members. Check them out here: NMRA Restaurant Industry Employee Benefits
  • Leadership – Is your restaurant leadership seen by employees as invisible, hands-off, or aloof?

Employees: If your employees aren’t satisfied, your customers won’t be, either. Here are some tools that may or may not already be in your toolbelt.

  • Quality circles/Focus groups — A great way to solve problems while fostering employee ownership.
  • Employee, management attitude surveys — Done right, this is seen as a tremendous developmental tool for both employees and management. Done badly, it can be disastrous.
  • Employee suggestions — Many companies use the number of employee suggestions as one of the best indicators of employee morale and management effectiveness.

Customers: How determined are you to get valid, objective feedback from your customers and to stay in tune with them?

  • Feedback – Keeping tabs on Yelp and TripAdvisor are all examples of customer feedback. Does anyone monitor them? Is a manager required to reply? If not, why not? Most customers appreciate when management responds to negative reviews.
  • Customer surveys – When was the last time your company conducted a customer survey to find out their perceptions? Oh.
  • Guarantees – Do you have any? Are your guarantees on a par with your competition? Are they better? Are they quick, painless and really customer friendly?


  • Outside consultants/Audits – When was the last time you really looked at the policies and procedures of your restaurant? This is a great source of objective opinions and new perspectives. This should NOT be used only in crisis situations.
  • Restaurant industry websites/blogs/YouTubes – Do you regularly browse them? If you only get one idea per month between them all, that’s 12 more than you would have gotten. Some good resources to get you started: NMRA Website, NMRA Blog, NMRA YouTube
  • NRA convention/Regional/State/local – Networking and a chance to keep up with the latest and greatest news. Support for your trade associations is vital to keep abreast of events that affect you.
  • Workshops – Have management attend relevant workshops that can keep them motivated and up to date.

There are a lot of tools that each restaurant can use, but with the crush of every day operations, may have totally forgotten they are there.