A search is on for a better way to detect turned-off restaurant customers and ensure the relationship is repaired, judging from a panel at this week’s Restaurant Trends & Directions conference in Chicago.
Right now, observed Matt Olsen, senior manager of digital marketing for Firehouse Subs, most chains believe they’ve “closed the loop” on a negative social media post or customer comment when they reach out to the disgruntled patron. But there’s no certainty the problem has been settled and the patron is appeased.
Why, asked fellow panelist Bill Long, CFO of Snooze, can’t an operation tell what the customer does? For instance, it’s common to give a complaining customer a coupon or credit for a free meal in the hope of getting a second chance. “But we don’t know if they come back in,” even though the technology exists today to check, he commented.
The third operator on the panel, Taco Mac Director of Marketing Emily Beesley, revealed that her chain has hit on a way to learn about a service problem and fix it while the guest is still in the restaurant. Tabletops within the sports-bar concept invite guests to “text the prez,” company President Greg Lippert. A phone line set up for the purpose relays the text in real time to Lippert, who fields every text. He can then contact the unit to ameliorate the situation before the patron leaves.