Getting Customers for Your Home-Based cooking Business Through Word of Mouth
HOME-BASED COOKING BUSINESS: THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT
My friend ordered a steak from a new steakhouse that had just been set up in the city. When the steak arrived, she noticed that it was about 90 percent fat. She asked the delivery person to return it to the restaurant and bring her another one. She explained that she couldn’t eat the fat portions.
The delivery person returned with not just a second steak that was also 90 percent fat, but also with a second bill asking her to pay separately for the second steak.
Any serious business in Dublin revolves around the customer. Hence, one of the first slogans I had to learn in customer services is that “The customer is always right”. This notion took me quite some time to absorb because I had come across several instances, which I had observed that the customer was definitely wrong.
Take for example, a situation whereby I have an order for sweet and sour chicken. And then the customer rejects the food and tells me that they are allergic to bell peppers. The customer then demands to get their money back. I take the food back and I notice that half the food has been eaten. Now, tell me, is this customer right? Should I refund their money?
Take another scenario. The customer calls and complains about the food and you pay for the food to be returned to you and you make another meal without any additional charges and send it back to the customer at your own expense. Why would you do that for your food business? Because the customer is always right.
WHY THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT
1. The customer holds the key to your making a sale. You want money? You have to deal with a person. You want to part with something in return for something else? You have to deal with a person. Without other human beings, your home-based cooking business will not exist. Your amazing cooking and baking skills are worthless if it is not valued and appreciated by customers. Customers are key to your success, therefore whatever you can do, within ethical and moral boundaries, is worth doing in order to reach them and get them to take an interest in your foods and drinks.
2. Word of mouth is the fastest selling tool for any business. Your customer is your best advertisement on two legs. Even after establishing a beautiful Instagram and Facebook page, or even splashing on a lovely website, or getting listed on local online business directories, you still need public opinion that holds that you cook great food and that you practice excellent customer service. People talk about food and they also talk about the personality of the person who cooked it. The reason Gordon Ramsay of Hell’s Kitchen fame is still in business is because he doesn’t give the customers Hell, he only gives it to the kitchen team, who are eager to please him anyway. There are so many food order services out there and the last thing I want to do is to go somewhere that makes me feel as if I am being a nuisance rather than a paying customer.
I am more likely to buy something that has been recommended rather than something that I have seen in an advertisement. Word of mouth is the reason why you should take that half-eaten meal back and give the customer a refund or a replacement meal. When other potential customers hear about the food order that you refused to take back, they will not be told that half its content had been eaten-up.
3. First impressions always count. The continuous traffic of customers to your food business is the key to the durability of your home-based cooking business. You will get people who use your food service, but you have got to keep them coming back time and time again. That’s the reason you should replace an order with no additional charges whenever a customer complains. Your customers will never order food from a direct competitor to your business because there is a guarantee that they will never end up losing money. And what’s more? Your happy customers will tell others about you and you will have a word-of-mouth marketing system working for you. However, do sit down and think through some basic service policies that you can communicate to your customers either on the receipt, the webpage or even through Social Media. What return policies should you have? What are your terms and conditions of service?
GREAT TIPS ON CUSTOMER SERVICES
The first rule in customer service is to SMILE. When your customers call, or when you need to call them, endeavour to smile as you speak to them on the phone. They may not see your smile but they can hear it in the tone and texture of your voice.
Never argue with a customer over the food delivered to them, the service they experienced or a misunderstanding in the communication process. Maintaining calm and composure is vital when listening to a customer’s complaint. This is part of customer service. Find words that you know will not provoke the customer. Never use accusing words or tell the customer that their complaints are not valid.
If the problem directly involves you (supposing you made a mistake, or the customer thinks you were rude), do not hesitate to apologize and offer to right the wrong or promise to be more careful or polite next time.
On the other hand:
If the customer complains about a food order; do not say, “I am sorry…” and think that it will resolve the situation. Saying “I am sorry…” denotes that you are directly to blame for the bad food service and therefore, that you are incompetent. This is especially so when you have done nothing to rectify the situation at that point.
Yes, you may be to blame, but you will achieve a lot more by offering to change the food or reassuring the customer that you will deliver the food faster next time. Some customers may even flare up and demand to know what it is that you are sorry for. This can be rather awkward.
However, you can turn every potential disastrous scenario to your advantage. It is possible.
Giving Great Customer Service as a Home-Cook
Being able to cook like a Michelin Starred chef or offering good prices does not guarantee customer satisfaction. You must also give your customers a wonderful customer experience.
With this in mind, I would like to share with you, a number of tips, which I have practiced over the years.
1. SPEED MATTERS
Old business habits will have to be broken. In the food business, you can’t afford to keep a hungry customer
One way to be efficient with your time is to have your workspace organized so that you will always know where everything is kept. Automation also aids organization. Invest as much as possible in tools that can help you stay organized. Think of the various areas of your food business that you need to have a system for. Create these systems and work with them to avoid confusion and delays. Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for cooking certain foods, taking orders, delivering food and staying in touch with your customers.
Buy the right equipment, tools and storage packs. Re-invest your business proceeds in your work so that you will have the right tools to work with. The right tools will help you work faster.
When you can make a phone call to get supplies delivered to you, do not make a trip to buy things. When you can chat with the person, do not send an email. Find ways to free up more time for high value tasks such as cooking and preparing ingredients.
Kill procrastination or it will kill your business
. If you have a large order that needs to be delivered this evening, give yourself sufficient time to get supplies, prepare ingredients, cook and package the foods for delivery. Also let your customers know that you cannot take certain large orders at short notice. This will seriously reduce your stress levels.
Use spare time to do spare things. Do not waste your spare time. Use it to plan, prepare ingredients that you may need to use regularly, correspond with suppliers and customers, clean your environment, and organize your workspace. Do not use business time for leisure. Organization of time for a specific purpose is a form of discipline.
2. IT DOES NOT KILL TO BE POLITE.
Pauper or prince, all customers and clients should be treated with equal respect, consideration and courtesy.
Taking out one’s moodiness on customers and clients, indicates that one takes their position in the food business world for granted.
3. LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS.
If you cultivate the habit of listening to your customers, you may hear something that will change the course of your food business. Your business is to solve your customers’ problems. Listen to their problem so that you will be sure to give the right solution.
Team Up with Esca Menu to Deliver Outstanding Customer Experiences
If you have a passion for cooking, you can sign up at Esca Menu, create your digital menu and offer your customers a contactless dining experience with online food ordering.