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Consumer Trends

5 ways to boost customer satisfaction

Here’s how to give guests the most from your menu.

For operators, nothing is more important than guest satisfaction—it’s the difference between traffic-boosting positive reviews and negative scores on online sites such as Yelp. Restaurant operators need to make it a priority to nurture a high level of customer satisfaction, because with more than 660,000 restaurants in the U.S., diners have a lot of choices to find something better.

The question then is: How can operators boost customer satisfaction? Here are five strategies.

1. Quality and flavor

Customers expect restaurants to provide high-quality food and drink service as well as surprise them with new flavors. But willingness to take a menu risk varies by consumer type, so it’s important for operators to pay attention to whom they’re serving and adjust menu offerings accordingly.

Baby boomers are showing a growing tendency to forgo new flavors, just as millennials and Gen Xers continue to drive demand for unique flavors, according to Technomic’s recentFlavor Consumer Trend Report. Differing attitudes ring particularly true for spicy, bold and ethnic flavors, with millennials twice as likely as boomers to order ethnic foods at least once a week. Giving each consumer options that appeal to what they want ensures that everyone can find something on the menu that satisfies.

2. Takeout and delivery

Takeout and delivery orders need to be given the same attention and detail that goes into serving guests who dine-in. According to Technomic’s Takeout & Off-Premise Consumer Trend Report, 60% of consumers say the most critical factor in ordering delivery was that food tasted just as good as dining in, and 45% say they want food to taste just as fresh as in the restaurant.

With consumers continuing to seek out off-premise options, paying attention to every detail of a takeout or delivery order is one way to guarantee guest satisfaction and gain a greater share of wallet.

3. Menu flexibility

Boasting a menu that offers a variety of appetizers, soups, salads, main courses and desserts is a good start to satisfying customers, but operators need to go a step further. Customer dining habits continually change to include menu items that are gluten-free, dairy-free, fat-free, organic, vegetarian, vegan and paleo. If a restaurant wants to satisfy diners of all stripes, menus need to include dietary choice/restriction items. Operators should also take care to call these options out on menus so diners can easily identify them.

4. LTOs and customization

Any restaurant can have great food, but a major factor that separates great restaurants from the rest is the personalized experience for each customer. According to Technomic’s Flavor Consumer Trend Report, 72% percent of consumers expect restaurants to accommodate customization requests. Giving people what they want is a good way to get them in the door, keep them coming back and keep them satisfied.

Another way to excite regular customers and attract the attention of new diners is to offer limited-time offers (LTOs). An LTO is a powerful marketing tool for restaurant operators that benefits both customer and operator. LTOs rose significantly (+63.5%), bringing excitement to menus with new, unique and seasonal offerings between 2013 and 2018, according to Technomic’s Ignite Menu Concept Development.

5. Quick prep staples

Protecting profits and customer satisfaction can be attained with quick-prep staples that have good plate coverage. These items are a win-win because they do not take much time to prepare or cook, and customers love ordering them. For example, french fries are a well-loved side that can be served with an array of entrees and can accompany an assortment of condiments, dipping sauces. And since speed of service during peak hours is crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction and protecting profits, operators should look for a french fry that is quick to prepare and delicious. Simplot Infinity fries deliver the quick prep operators need and the craveability that will bring patrons back for more.

Another great example of a quick-prep staple is a grain salad (made with prepared grain bases), which have high flavor adaptability, so kitchen staff can add any toppings they desire.

Offering a varied menu that’s easy to prepare allows for choices diners are looking for and that is adaptable to off-premise needs is key for keeping diners satisfied with their experience at a restaurant.

This post is sponsored by Simplot