As one who dines out often and also owns a restaurant, I like to believe I can say a thing or two about being on both sides of the coin.
Let’s define customer service:
Customer service is the assistance and advice you provide to your diners
When I think of good customer service, a friendly welcoming server or manager usually comes to mind. And if it’s a street food stall, then a friendly owner as usually it’s the owner that handles everything.
In my experience, customers usually know what they want and for me it’s quite the same. I like to see a restaurant take an interest in setting out a daily specials menu but on the other hand I prefer to just go for what I know and like (Creature of habit).
From a cafe I would order the same turkey sandwich, from a bistro I would usually go for something more comforting like mash potatoes and battered prawns or fish and from a street food stall definitely something local and spicy, also comforting too.
Many argue that a server/waiter should be able to recommend a particular dish. A recommendation can only be given but as a Chef/Owner. I would probably be keen to hear more from the chef than the server/waiter with the exception of a Maître d’hôtel of a formal fine dining restaurant who is quite literally the voice box of the Executive Chef.
Go with the flow and pace of the customer.
This I have experienced as a diner, people watching and also as a restaurant owner. The truth is as humans we are always in a hurry, we want to read a menu and have the food ready a la minute. Good food takes time to prepare, off course lets not go overboard with this.
If a customer is short and direct, be just that with politeness off course. And if a customer is a little more chatty and friendly, go with that energy too. Because in all honesty, some customers just want a quiet moment in a restaurant to offload while some like restaurants for interaction and also the food.
I believe in a more customised or should I say personalised approach towards customer service. Saying this, customer service is extremely important so is consistency in food offerings. For example, if a waiter has a regular customer and knows he/she orders prawns on each visit but on this particular occasion it is unavailable. The waiter should promptly state it after greeting and exchanging pleasantries so as not to disappoint the customer too much. As this is being done, another offering/recommendation should be made to show the customer you care.