Getting accurate feedback from your restaurant customers can be challenging.
Changes in restaurant technology and operations such as curbside pick-ups and contactless ordering and payments have substantially disrupted the traditional method of soliciting vital customer feedback.
Having your staff ask customers how everything went as they get ready to leave is now far less frequently an option.
But that may not be a bad thing.
How often did hurried customers, anxious to get home, really take the time to talk to their waiters and set out in detail any concerns that they might have had?
It might be down to a reluctance to give honest feedback face to face. It might be because of a simple desire to get out of the door as quickly as possible.
So it’s far more likely that they’ll just give a simple “very good, thank-you”, and be on their way.
And as much as that may be a relief for both staff and management, it’s of very little use in helping you achieve the kind of customer retention levels that are essential for survival.
Fortunately, with modern restaurant technology there a now a variety of ways to encourage customers to provide timely, honest and accurate feedback.
One of the most straightforward methods is to set up your restaurant POS to automatically solicit customer feedback at checkout — contactless or otherwise.
A good POS system will also enable you to produces session by session reports and track longer-term trends. Is your average customer experience getting better or worse? Are some dishes becoming more or less popular? Which members of staff are meeting your service standards and which may need some extra guidance?
All these questions and more can be answered by your POS, and it’s data that’s essential to the health of your business.
Receipts of course provide customers with an essential record of how much they have spent.
But they can be so much more than that.
The increasing use of mobile devices to make payments offers restaurants an ideal opportunity for customers to provide feedback by text or email.
Experience suggests that email is particularly effective for this purpose, but whatever channel you’re using, the key to success is a simple, polite request at the top of the digital receipt.
You can ask customers to reply directly or prompt them to leave their feedback on your website or social media platforms. You might also incentivize them to do so – perhaps by issuing loyalty program reward points – but it’s surprising how many will respond to a polite request alone..
Prompted reviews are one thing, but to get the most accurate possible picture of customer attitudes to your business it’s also important to monitor the unprompted reviews – those being left on third-party sites such as Yelp, Zomato, and OpenTable.
Constantly monitoring all these sites would be extremely time-consuming – in fact near impossible task – particularly for businesses with multiple outlets. But by using a review management software it’s relatively easy to aggregate the reviews being left on potentially dozens of sites – enabling you to reach out to customers who have left adverse reviews and to take action to correct any genuine grievances.
Similarly, it would be a daunting task to try and monitor every mention of your business on all the numerous social media platforms out there. But this is some of the most valuable feedback available – arguably where customers are most likely to provide the unvarnished truth as they see it.
The answer is to use one or more of the many social media listening tools now available, such as Hootsuite, Brand24, and Agora Pulse.
These tools come at a variety of price points to suit all sizes of business and offer a range of different features.
It may take a little time and research to determine which one best suits your particular needs but the effort will be well worthwhile.