Reading the customer the menu over the phone

We occasionally get customers who call up and ask the dreaded question, “Yeah, what kinda subs yall got?” We then have to spend time reading off all of our subs on the menu, along with a description of each one, and then wait for them to decide. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that people want to give me money for my food. But does anyone know of a tactful way of guiding them off the phone to the website where they can see everything there and call back, thus not tying up our phone line? Or am I being overly sensitive and it’s just the cost of doing business with the public? I always make sure to note these calls and make sure they walk out with a menu. We live in a rural area, so it’s not a stretch to think that not everyone can get to the internet all the time, if at all.

Maybe it’s too closely related to my biggest pet peeve which is the person who gets you on the phone, then “yeah, I’d like to order a pizza. (followed by 3-4 minutes of asking everyone in their house what they want on said pizza)”.

Yes, I too suffer through that! What I normally say is that we have 20 different subs, and our online section has a great descriptive narrative with pictures and you can even order online right there so you do not feel like you have to be rushed!

No subs… but when people do that with our pizza combos we train our staff to answer along these lines:

“Our whole menu is on our website with pictures of the combos, but our best selling combo is the “Big Dog” which has pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, black olives and onions and the combo we are best known for is called the “Snow in Texas” which is a white sauce pie with mesquite chicken, artichoke hearts and roma tomatoes. Does either of those sound like something you would like?”

The often pick one them or answer with something do you have a meat lover’s or do you have a vegi special and we are done.

We get this all the time people call in to order for delivery and they are at a friends house so they are the middle man “hey whats your phone number, hey whats your address, hey what do you guys want” very irritating when you have all lines going and people walking in. I try and direct people to the website very nicely but the ones that dont go for it we just read them a couple of options stuff that I want to sell that night or i just give people the most popular items. The worst is when people want to hear all of your toppings!

My wife can spend 20 minutes reviewing a breakfast menu…And with most places it is the same stuff everywhere…Funny thing is when I ask her whats she wants for breakfast, she can “order” in about 1 minute with no menu…

We to deal with this all the time. I made a commitment on Jan 1st to find a solution for every single problem we have in our business, and this is one of them. I read the Zappos books ( there are 2 of them ) and their policy is to take as long as is needed with each and every customer. Their record call length is 9 hours. I would love it if we could do that. Take a 9 hour call and still keep the operation moving along. Currently our average phone order takes a little under 2 minutes. I’m going to start asking my people to take more time with our calls and see if we can get that number up to 3 or 4 minutes. The Zappos CEO says treat each call as an interaction rather than a transaction and your customers will become loyal customers that order more often and recommend you to their friends and family.

It’s the absolute worst and I think I have trouble hiding my annoyance.

I also like the ‘what toppings do you have’ as if they expect us to say ‘bits of unicorn hearts’.

It comes with the territory I guess.
I’m betting that less than 50% of our local residents have internet access at home, so that hurts us. And if the locals do have a cell phone, it is either an old flip. or if they do have a smartphone, they have no clue how to use it.
Data coverage in this area is very sketchy at best with the big 2 providers, and cell service is mostly non-existent with the other carriers such as sprint, virgin, T-Mobile and countless others. so that hurts us with the tourists being able to view our items online.
Heck, Grub Hub refuses to service my area, what does that tell you?

As I tell our counter people; “It is your job to guide the people, DO NOT just punch in orders verbatim without questioning, suggesting, and otherwise and helping guide them”.
And there are only 2 answer to any question you are asked, They are either; “Yes” or “Let me check on that for you” nothing else.
The question I hear dozens of times daily in summer;
“Whats the difference between the Beef Brisket, and the Pulled Pork”? Yeah, I am serious!

There’s a difference ? :smiley:

Just today I had a customer after the 20 questions game ask if 2 medium pizzas is more pizza than a medium and a large.

Did you just drop the handset to the floor and walk away in amazement after that question?

last night i was the phone guy, a few of the callers were so stoned they were like in a time delay warp, 5 seconds between every word, i’m on the other end going 110 mph with 1 phone -call/waiting, i find it very difficult to slow down for people when we are in a crush, ,

This is one of the things I have absolutely no patience with. These calls never come at 3:30 in the afternoon. It’s always when you’re either very busy, or short handed, or both.

Fortunately, I have some employees that are incredibly patient with this kind of thing, so I usually just hand them off if possible.

If it looks like I’m going to be trapped into describing every sandwich, every sauce and every component of every sandwich, I usually try to find a gentle way to get them to check out the website- I usually tell them that there are pictures on the website if they want to see what the sandwiches look like, as well as descriptions of all the menu items, and that if they’d like to check it out and decide what they want, they can either call us back or order directly online. That way it (hopefully) comes across more like I’m trying to be helpful by giving them a visual reference, rather than just brushing them off.

I also make sure I flag the order, so the person handing off the food knows to give them a copy of the menu and let them know that there are full descriptions of all the menu items (in a helpful and polite way, without sarcasm or attitude). This is good for the people in rural areas who may not have direct or convenient internet access. Ideally, giving them the menu will help stave off similar calls in the future.

Thanks for the responses. For the record, we do try to walk them through and give them a good experience. I was just looking for some polite ways to steer them to the website to save us time on the phone and let them decide at their own pace. Some times it’s never going to do any good. We had someone call today who is a regular customer and ask “What do you guys got?” and had Amy go through all the appetizers, subs, wraps, salads, ect. with her. I know she’s been given menus several times. Sometimes, there’s just not going to be a way around it.

Yup. As frustrating as it can be, it’s the cost of doing business.

I love our stoners that come in there, we typically see them roll in around 4:30 PM, and they order huge.
I hate when I have them on the phone though/.

I made up a sandwich called “The Nightmare on Elm Street” for our stoner crowd. it is 1/2LB chopped, smoked beef brisket, melted swiss cheese, Hot Giardiniera, bacon, and topped with deep fried cheese curds, then it gets a good dousing in Au Jus . That and a basket of Chili-Cheese fries and they are ready to fall asleep.