If you think it’s the fabulous food that’s bringing customers through the doors of your restaurant, you may be wrong. A study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates discovered that good customer service is one of the leading factors consumers take into consideration when choosing a place to dine out. Investing the time and money into training your wait staff on the many facets of good customer service might be one of the best investments you can make for your business.

Know Your Customers

It is important to treat all of your customers as if they are the most important people on earth, but it's even more critical to treat your most loyal customers like gold. Author and retail guru Bob Phibbs says that if your customers aren’t willing to crawl over broken glass to return to your venue, you still have some work to do. Roy’s Restaurants, a medium-sized chain located primarily in California, Florida and Hawaii, keeps electronic records of its customers that include how often they visit and what they like. Make a reservation for a birthday, and you will be asked to send in a photo of the birthday boy or girl beforehand. The restaurant then tailors a birthday dinner, down to a welcome card with the photograph and a poem, to celebrate the occasion.

Be Attentive, Not Intrusive

Restaurant servers must cater to their customers on a timely basis, but without becoming an annoyance. Most diners would be hard-pressed to decide if they would rather deal with an absentee server or one who doesn’t leave them alone to finish their meal and their conversation. Your wait staff needs to learn to strike a balance, keeping some distance from the customers but remaining in the dining room. They should always scan their customers, and immediately respond when any of them need something.

Admit When You're Wrong

Mistakes happen; they're inevitable in any business. The trick to turning a dissatisfied customer into a loyal one is admitting that you were wrong and then going out of your way to make it right. The Consumerist reported a story of one customer who had a particularly bad experience over a $6 beverage at a Starbucks. The customer called the corporate offices to give his opinion on how the Starbucks store could have handled the situation. Instead of some corporate line, he found a $50 Starbucks card in the mail soon after. Not only is that customer even more loyal than he was before, he's let a lot of people know about his experience, giving Starbucks even more positive word of mouth.

Go Above and Beyond

Instead of striving to offer good customer service, make it exceptional. Go above and beyond at every opportunity to make your customers’ experiences at your restaurant memorable. Social media expert Peter Shankman tells the story about a time he was on a flight to Newark. Before he got on the plane, he jokingly tweeted that he would like a porterhouse steak from Morton’s Steakhouse when he got off the plane. Unbelievably, when he landed, a representative from Morton’s was at the airport with his steak. Now that is exceptional customer service.