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Using feedback to perfect the customer experience: How surveys help restaurants

Photograph: Shutterstock

As restaurants digitally accelerate and adapt to new service models, customers are grappling with how to consume and who to trust. Disruptions to traditional feedback mechanisms between restaurants and patrons have resulted in the loss of customer voice.

“How was everything today?”—a pillar in any server-patron dialogue, gone overnight. “There’s a survey on the back of your bill, please tell us how we did!”—eradicated by contactless payment and digital ordering. This isn’t to say that what was done in the past was entirely foolproof. Consumers may never have provided truly honest feedback—as one survey company says, “Feedback is usually biased, because no one likes to tell the waiter their honest thoughts. They want to eat their meal in peace and leave.”

Today, society is witnessing what will surely be remembered as a historic deployment of remote work and digital access to services across every domain. The good news is that restaurant patrons have never been better positioned to adopt survey technology. With the increased reliance on technology, using third-party delivery apps, QR codes and online ordering, there are additional ways to solicit feedback, giving customers a platform and a voice.

Make it transactional

Now is the time to align transactional feedback from customers with employees. If a restaurant offers delivery, consider surveying diners by email or SMS once their food has arrived. Questions such as, “Was your meal warm upon delivery?” could reveal operational opportunities between kitchen and delivery teams that could be optimized, creating better experiences, especially when leveraging third parties for fulfillment.

Deeper insights

Customers are inclined to go online to share negative experiences, and restaurants should really listen to that feedback. By using sentiment analysis on data collected from online reviews and open-ended questions, operators can uncover themes that point to bigger underlying issues. Additionally, by slicing and dicing solicited versus unsolicited feedback, operators can create comparisons that identify trends. 

Be in the moment

Restaurants should consider adding an NPS® or CSAT question to their website during checkout, or on the POS terminal during payment. When a customer scans a QR code for a digital menu, have a personalized survey appear before they leave the page; get their input while they are in the moment. Surveys help pinpoint what’s having the greatest impact on diners, as well as what keeps them coming back, so operators can replicate and scale their success.

New adopters

Breakfast and lunch franchise Pür & Simple recently made the decision to adopt survey technology across their locations, hoping to better evaluate day-to-day operations in an efficient manner, with proper, comparable reporting. As they’ve continued to monitor and respond to unsolicited feedback on Google Reviews, social media, Yelp and TripAdvisor, they’ve found that guests are worried about their safety and have zero tolerance for bad experiences. Today, restaurants need to be proactive in order to win, with access to better data, in-depth cross-program and cross-channel reporting, which gives the ability to conduct a deeper analysis to understand what keeps customers coming back.

The time to act is now

By implementing surveys and customer feedback, operators can retain existing customers by understanding what they love about a restaurant. Identify and resolve aspects of the customer journey prohibiting them from taking advantage of the restaurant’s full offerings. And, whether replicating a success or filling a gap, learnings from one customer interaction are an opportunity for every interaction that follows. As operators leverage surveys to continuously learn from existing customers, their ability to attract and wow new ones will increase. 

This post is sponsored by Intouch Insight

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