5 Reasons Why Restaurants Need to Solicit Customer Feedback
Sales data isn’t always enough. How do you tell the difference, for example, between a failure and a transition slump? Not just by looking at numbers. This is the kind of important crossroads where restaurant feedback makes all the difference. Customer feedback fills in the gaps that sales data leaves behind. You can hire better, manage more effectively, test new initiatives and take creative risks. You know in detail how to tailor operations and services to your audience, because, simply, your audience is telling you.
5 Reasons Why Restaurants Need to Solicit Customer Feedback
Getting the right information
In short, customer feedback gives you vital information for growth and change. But what’s the best way to gather this data?
Old-school methods include comment cards and visiting tables. There’s nothing wrong with old-school methods. But they leave gaps, too.
Comment cards, for example, have no direct link to online reviews, which represents a big missed opportunity. And while going from table to table will always be a vital relationship builder, what you learn on those rounds doesn’t get automatically collected, consolidated, analyzed, or shared. You’ve got to remember it, and hope the customers you choose to visit are telling you what you need to know.
Ask and you shall receive
The way to get the feedback you need is, in fact, to ask for it. But you’ve got to be strategic and ready to interpret the data.
When building your online reputation, testing new initiatives, approaching goals, or navigating change, the more feedback from customers you have, and the more strategic you are about collecting it, the better. Here are five ways soliciting restaurant feedback works.
1 – It builds reputation.
Restaurants live and die by their reputation, whether online or by word of mouth.
Make the feedback ask a predictable phenomenon in your restaurant. Choose a particular time or context in which to ask customers what they think, ask every time they dine, and they’ll start to expect and even look forward to it. Build the expectation that you want to know what they think, bad or good, and you’ll also be building respect, an atmosphere of communication, and positive feelings—and thus positive reviews!
Feedback also comes with a built-in reputation control. If something’s not going well, you’ll know sooner rather than later and have opportunity to fix the problem before online ratings go south.
2 – It helps track progress.
When you solicit feedback from customers, get the most out of a few key questions—regarding atmosphere, food, service, and value—so you can keep steady track of progress in key areas. Keep these key questions the same as far as they are helpful.
Even when your questions don’t directly address certain aspects of your restaurant, you might want to track, such as back-of-house, point of sale, and operations, comments, and ratings in other areas can give you clues to these. For example, customer dissatisfaction over menu or food prep can indicate an overworked staff, an uninspired wine selection, or an inventory system that needs updating. You track progress, directly and indirectly, by watching patterns over time.
3 – It supports change and risk.
Soliciting feedback also encourages creativity on your part, and on the part of your leadership team. This is because restaurant feedback can tell you right away how new initiatives, dishes, entertainment, employee training, atmosphere, or décor are working for you. You don’t have to wait to see whether it works out, and, therefore, you can go farther out on a limb without the worry that you’ll get too far into a bad idea before realizing it.
Since every culinary vision varies, and each restaurant has its own particular goals, there will be questions you may want to ask depending on variables such as new menu items, seasons, transitions, etc. Anything you’re curious about, solicit customer feedback to track your progress. This lets you take creative risks while giving you quick feedback to stay nimble as plans develop and change.
4 – It highlights patterns.
If you have a way to consistently capture and archive customer reviews, what you end up with is a goldmine of data. Collected over time, you can track long-term monthly, seasonal, and yearly patterns. This opens up numerous possibilities to understand your restaurant’s strengths and weaknesses, make staffing decisions, make big changes or investments where needed, and shape your restaurant’s trajectory. The key is to find a review collection tool that will help you turn reviews into actionable insights and into an archive where you can analyze and track long-term patterns.
5 – It gives ups and downs a name.
What’s great about reviews is that they’re not just numbers. They’re also words. Star ratings give you charts and graphs. Customer comments give you the invaluable detail to fill out and nuance your ratings. Choose a feedback collection method that will give you both number-based data and comments, and you can give the ups and downs in your analytics a name, whether that’s a new seasonal menu, an under-attentive staff, a perfect atmosphere for telecommuters, or a buffet that’s overpriced.
Original Review is the customer review platform that sets you up for success. It solicits easy feedback from all your tables before diners leave the restaurant, and lets you customize questions to test those areas of service and atmosphere you’re working hardest on. OR collects reviews and makes them instantly available to post online and respond to in-person. It also translates them into navigable, actionable data insights right on your dashboard. In real time, watch incoming reviews affect the data points you want to see, giving you measurements for every day and long-term success.
Hope in your culinary vision may spring eternal. Facts don’t hurt, either. See more about what our restaurant clients have to say about how OR has changed the way they’re able to do business. If you like what you see, request a free demo!