As we all know, keeping your customers happy is the bottom line of any successful business undertaking, no matter the industry. Restaurants, however, have many moving parts that are, at times, unpredictable. The weather forecast is the same as last year; no special events are occurring in the area, and we’re not promoting our changing seasonal menu. Despite this, we’re slammed on a Sunday evening with not enough staff to cover the floor. Wonderful.
So, you may wonder, how do restaurants do it? How do they take the top spots in customer satisfaction? Do they have a crystal ball, is there an ancient sage running their operation, or does their extensive experience result in smarter decision-making skills?
Nation’s Restaurant News recently reported on Merchant Centric’s fine-dining Happy Customer Index. This analysis incorporates millions of reviews that discuss food quality, staff abilities and demeanor, price versus value, and more. Of the 25 fine-dining restaurants that made the list, the analysis shows that many scored higher in customer satisfaction than their all-time ratings.
Let’s explore some of their findings and see who takes the top five positions in happy customers. Keep in mind these top contenders came in extremely close, with rankings that may differ by only .01 scores.
Steak 48, a Scottsdale, AZ-based steakhouse, received the highest rating, with some of the top attributes going to the food, staff demeanor, and accuracy of the orders. Steak 48 is defined by its luxurious personal service and food options that range from the highest-grade Japanese A5 Wagyu beef to USDA prime steaks and a seafood bar. Guests can also select from over 6,000 bottles of wine.
Based on 4,943 reviews in OpenTable, their restaurant in Beverly Hills received a rating of 4.7 out of 5. Not bad. Steak 48 has locations in Beverly Hills, Charlotte, Chicago, Del Mar, Houston, and Philadelphia.
Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
This Orlando-based restaurant, with over 30 locations in 13 states, came in a close second with top marks for food and staff demeanor. It’s part of the Darden Concepts restaurant group, along with Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Yard House, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, and more. It ranked the highest for loyalty and referrals.
Head to Eddie V’s website, and you’ll notice they’re already marketing Thanksgiving dinner. They also have top spots on their site promoting their happy hour and shareable from 4 to 6:30 p.m., live music in the lounge, and gift cards. Good marketing strategy.
Truluck’s Ocean’s Finest Seafood & Crab
Truluck’s is known for serving sustainable, high-quality seafood in a beautiful setting and scored highest in staff demeanor and dedication. They’re currently highlighting Florida Stone Crab season, from October 15 to May 1.
These crabs are sustainably harvested and not killed during the process. Crabbers use wooden traps, and just one claw is gently removed before returning them to the ocean. As stone crabs can regenerate lost claws, they continue to live on, ensuring the sustainability of the species. Guests experience Florida Stone Crab, which makes it from the trap to the table in 24 hours. Founded in 1992, they currently have 12 locations, with seven in Texas and three in Florida.
The Capital Grille
Another brand under the Darden family, The Capital Grille was founded in 1990 and now boasts about 65 locations. They offer dry-aged steaks that are dried on the premises for 18 to 24 days before being hand-carved by in-house butchers.
Some of their locations are well-known for their picturesque and architecturally diverse buildings. These include the Trylon Towers in the New York City Chrysler Building and the historic Cobb Building in Seattle. This brand gained its highest scores in staff demeanor and order accuracy.
Ocean Prime is part of the Cameron Mitchell Group, which includes 22 current or up-and-coming brands. It currently has 20 locations across the U.S. that feature a modern steakhouse ambiance.
Their moto? “From valet service and floral arrangements to audio-visual support and specialty cakes or desserts—whatever you can imagine, we will deliver.” Now, that’s personalized service. They scored highest in staff demeanor.
So, what do these restaurants tell us about guest satisfaction? Much of it, of course, rests in your server’s hands. All of these restaurants boast high-quality, fine dining. They also all gained high marks for staff demeanor.
And they all go out of their way to create an experience worth remembering. A study by Intouch Insight, about five years ago, suggests what Merchant Centric’s analysis revealed: customer satisfaction is dependent on the responsiveness of frontline employees.
How do you help staff with that all-important attitude? Just as customers want to know their value, so do employees. They want to feel heard, empowered and cared for. Shared meals with heartfelt conversations and suggestions seriously considered are among the many places to start.
At Emerging Concepts, we help our clients define their goals and then exceed them, whether extending their footprint locally or across the nation. To learn more about our many restaurant divisions or to schedule a consultation, contact Emerging Concepts.