If you’ve ever dined at one of the many African/Nigerian restaurants in London or anywhere else in England, you would have made a few observations…..most of them not entirely of a positive nature.
From poor customer service to long waiting times for the hungry (and often inpatient African) customer, food Critic and blogger Chop Street London looks into some of the reasons African restaurants are failing to hit the standard set by other ethnic and British restaurants.
These really are basic things any serious business should be doing, but in typical fashion, even with all the resources available to restaurateurs, many African diners are left with an unremarkable experience leading to many heading out to other chains and cuisines in search of a lovely night out.
African or not, the customer should be king regardless of who’s serving and who’s cooking, no?
Here are a few tips from Chop Street London.
1. Welcome your customer: this cannot be over-emphasised. There is nothing more annoying than walking into a restaurant and the staff is staring at you like you wandered into the wrong place. Even if I did, don’t stand at the bar/counter staring at me; say something. When people walk into your restaurant, grab a menu, welcome them with a warm smile and usher them to a table. It is that easy and simple. Every customer wants to feel welcomed with a sense of belonging.
2. Be Polite and courteous: be polite to every customer that visits your restaurant irrespective of what they look like. The staff should look happy to serve and not act as if they have been interrupted by the customer’s presence. Most Nigerian restaurants in London lack good customer service which is very annoying (story for another day). You are not doing the customer a favour; always remember that.
3. Update the customer: I understand that sometimes certain food may take a longer time to prepare but the customer is hungry and wants to eat. Don’t allow the customer signal to you and ask for the food. Rather than ignoring the customers, you should update them and explain why the food is taking that long. When the food finally arrives, do offer a simple apology; it doesn’t cost a thing.
4. Be Quick: I mean BE QUICK! Most often than not, it is snail speed from the moment a customer is seated, to the ordering process, and drinks/food arrival…sigh. Restaurant is a fast-paced environment; if you are under-staffed, please hire more staff. No customer is interested in sorry tales.
5. Exhibit good product knowledge: knowledge is power! as old as this saying is, it is still true! A good waiter/waitress should have a good understanding of the food and drinks menu. When a customer asks a question about an item on the menu, please do not say ‘I don’t know’ because you should know, especially when the customer is new to Nigerian food. Restaurant owners/managers should train their staff on the different types of dishes they offer. Good product knowledge will make you gain the customer’s confidence and trust and can also lead to cross-selling or up-selling which means more sales for you. Invest in your staff and you will reap the benefits.
These are just a few of the things Nigerian Restaurants should be doing. If they can start with these five things, it would have a positive and resounding impact on their service. The business environment is dynamic and you must embrace change else you will be left behind. As they say, you can’t keep doing things the same way and expect to see a difference. It is time for change! Let us make dinning out at Nigerian restaurants a worthwhile experience.
We couldn’t agree more. For more restaurant reviews and fine dinning tips in London, check out the Chop Street London Blog.