Over the years, guest feedback has become a critical component of the success of many restaurants. As proven by Gartner Research, companies that actively engage in listening to their customer through feedback, spend 25% less on customer retention than those that don’t. It’s a great opportunity to support your guests and boost your bottom line.
Obtaining guest feedback is a topic we’ve covered on our blog before. It contains a lot of benefits and can really help you improve your operations and revenues. However, as a restaurant implementing a feedback program for the first time, it’s important to know the scope of programs available and what would work best for your establishment.
In this article, we explore the two most popular tactics to obtain feedback, how you can increase the quantity and quality of responses, and why feedback is so critical in this day and age.
Why Measuring Feedback is Critical
First, measuring guest feedback is critical to help you improve the service and quality of product you deliver on a daily basis. Guests know first hand the quality of your service and food – so gaining insight from them can help you understand areas of improvement that you might have overlooked. In addition, guest feedback can provide an opportunity for new and exciting enhancements. Whether it is offering special dietary-friendly items at your restaurant or adjusting the staffing to deliver faster service, they know better than anyone what defines the best experience possible to encourage their future loyalty.
Secondly, feedback from guests can help you gain a deeper understanding of your restaurant’s operations. Say, for example, a guest waits over 20 minutes at your restaurant for their food. If they provide feedback, you can recognize that the time to serve was too long and fix the issue before it happens to anyone else. What’s more, if your feedback process is real-time, you can resolve the issue immediately – deterring the guest from leaving the premises upset and spreading negativity online.
Lastly, obtaining feedback from your guests can help you create a better strategy for the future focused on customer satisfaction. Knowing what is and isn’t working directly from the guest’s perspective, can help you navigate what to tweak in your current strategy. For instance, if your guests aren’t responding to your post-visit emails or dine-in promotions, it might be time to look at the messaging you are using and test out a few options.
Feedback from guests has a ton of benefits, with these just being a few examples. Whether it is used to increase revenue, build loyalty, or increase transparency, it’s a profitable choice for any restaurant.
Why Traditional Methods of Measuring Feedback Don’t Work
Collecting feedback is obviously an essential driver of business success, but knowing how to collect it is just as important. How you collect the feedback can determine how much data you receive from your guests in addition to the quality of the feedback you receive. For many businesses, using traditional paper-based methods are still widely utilized – however, it isn’t the most effective or efficient. Let’s explore why.
Today, our world is immersed in digital with everything from how businesses communicate to how they sell having been transformed. In fact, back in 2013, direct mail expenditure was 10.9% of all advertising expenditure. The full-year figures for 2017 show this has dropped by almost one-third to just 7.9%. Post mail is a dated method that could put you behind on the trend curve and out of the guest’s mind. Guests want to be engaged, they want options, and they want to feel comfortable when they do. With a digital platform to collect feedback, you can give guests variety and make it easy for them to access and submit their ideas and concerns. Especially in an era where technology-savvy Millennials and Generation Z’s are evolving into a large portion of the customer population, being digital is a huge advantage.
Secondly, paper-based surveys can be costly and time-consuming. Filling out any type of form by hand as a guest can be daunting. Not to mention, the process to actually receive the information can take days, weeks, and sometimes even months. This is detrimental to a business when an upset guest is venting in-moment because you can’t recover them in real-time. With a digital platform, you can send a survey immediately and get feedback instantly. Not to mention, you can reach plenty of people over multiple geographic regions that wouldn’t even be a consideration with paper-based methods.
For paper-based feedback, consider the cost of printing pages and the teams you are hiring to execute them. All of these small requirements add up and aren’t required from a digital feedback platform. In addition, consider your reach and related costs. With paper based-feedback, you’re limited to as many messages as your budget and bandwidth allow. Whereas with digital, anyone who has a connection and a URL or app can access your survey to provide feedback.
Lastly and most importantly, digital puts the guest in control in terms of both the answers they provide and how they provide them. With paper-based functions, guest writing is limited to the amount of space that you offer. If it’s a long form answer and you provide half a page, a guest is limited to that half a page. A guest is also limited to how they submit their answer, i.e they can only submit a paper response. With digital, a customer can write as much feedback (or as little) as they want. No exceptions. In addition, they can submit it on the medium of their choice, whether that be an in-store kiosk, text submission, a web survey, and so on.
Providing options, as we’ve just highlighted here and in previous posts, is the most critical aspect of engaging the modern guest. Today’s digitally emersed environment is all about tending to the guest’s needs in a way that is convenient for them and engaging. With a plethora of options to connect already at their fingertips, if you aren’t using digital to collect feedback from your customers you can be certain they’ll find another brand that is.
How To Obtain Optimal Guest Feedback
Once you’ve nailed down your options for collecting effective feedback, it’s now time to figure out how to optimize the amount of feedback you retrieve from your guests.
Train Staff to Encourage Feedback from Guests
If you’re looking to obtain feedback, you have to ask for it. Guests have to know the program exists and know that you want to hear from them. Having your team bring it up is a great first step to having them submit more feedback.
Engaging guests when you know they will be receptive will help you obtain the most feedback. Train team members to mention your program at critical touchpoints. Places like hostess stands, at dining tables, on take-out menus, or as a link to the bottom of their receipt are great areas to pilot. Similarly, training team members to inform guests in a way that is alluring will also enhance the number and quality of responses. Tactics, like using their name or referencing a past visit, is a great place to start.
Be Available on the Guest’s Terms
Convenience is key when it comes to requesting feedback from your guests. In this day and age, apps are widely used to communicate, and usually, more than one at a time are used by restaurant guests. From WhatsApp to Facebook Messenger, to SMS and Line, providing a variety of options will broaden your audience scope in addition to satisfying the needs of your existing guests.
If you’re thinking of being available on multiple channels, we recommend leveraging a Customer Experience Management (CEM) platform so your team can easily manage feedback. A CEM platform will streamline the process, in addition to auto-routing urgent messages to management and providing useful data analytics features.
Ask The Right Questions
The insights you receive will be completely dependent on the questions that you ask. Whether you want to know about the speed of service or team attentiveness, it’s important that the questions you ask reflect what you want to know. Questions like “Rate the cleanliness of our establishment” or “How was your service today?’ are great examples.
In addition, the way that you frame questions should reflect how your customers want to be asked. Do they prefer pick lists? Multiple choice? Long form? Short form? If you’re unsure of what type of questions your guests are more receptive to, pilot a few options to see how they respond. If long-form questions are more popular than multiple choice, shift your survey accordingly. By tailoring your survey to guest preferences, you encourage them to complete the survey and increase the likelihood of obtaining quality feedback.
Make It Simple.
No guest wants to be put through a lengthy and cumbersome feedback process. At the end of the day they’re doing you a favour, so it’s important to reward them with a simple and well-executed feedback solution.
If you can, try and make the questions you ask simple and concise. Provide steps throughout the program so a guest can easily complete the process and make the task of sharing feedback as easy as pressing a “submit” button. If a guest has to work to submit feedback, odds are they won’t, so it’s important to make their experience effortless.
Receiving feedback from your guests is an important tool for supporting growth. Whether you utilize the insights from feedback to better your operations or to better tailor your business offering, a feedback program should be a top consideration for the long-term success of your restaurant.
Discover why now more than ever it is important to listen to customer preferences and how you can implement it into your customer experience program by reading our white paper: The New Voice of The Customer.