Does Anyone Really Know What Customers Want from Their Restaurants?

 In Reviews

Owners who deploy Original Review know what customers want. As things change, OR users stay in the middle of it, with fresh feedback from diners every day. Here’s why this kind of data is your key to growth.

Does Anyone Really Know What Customers Want from Their Restaurants?

I have my degree in hospitality, not fortune telling. I went to culinary and business school, not Hogwarts. I’m tired of trying to read customer’s minds!

These are the thoughts of a restaurateur who’s on a learning curve, but no longer enjoying it. She knows the restaurant needs to hit its sweet spot, knows the importance of targeting and honing for an audience, but is frustrated and tired of the trial-and-error guessing game, begging for online reviews, and basing ideas on scant comment cards. She wants to move on and grow.

Riding a learning curve can quickly turn into burnout and cynicism if you’re not seeing improvement. And to improve, you need data. Each restaurant, each local context, each audience of customers and potential customers, even each season of the year—they all make up a different mélange of expectations, needs, and preferences that beg to be addressed.

How do successful restaurants find out what their customers want, and in detail? Is it ever possible to know for sure?


Owners who deploy Original Review know what customers want. As trends, seasons, menus, amenities, staff, and audiences change, owners and managers who use OR are accumulating fresh feedback straight from the table, every day, every hour.

How does it work?

First, let’s examine why data is key to connecting your vision with your customer base. Then we’ll take a closer look at Original Review, with its unique (and affordable!) feedback technology.

Seeing around the bend

Many factors influence what people seek when they go out to eat, including the economy and job market, social climates, cultural values, technologyeven popular media.

In 1985, for example, restaurants didn’t have to wonder how to cater to telecommuters. Changes in social climate have increased the American palette and heightened expectations for international cuisine. Media like food blogs have brought “foodie-ism” into the mainstream. These are just a few of the phenomena that have changed how Americans approach dining out.

In retrospect, we know all this.

But when does the average restaurateur get in the know about what customers are looking for?

Why data is key

After information begins accumulating, owners can make decisions and changes from small to large. All too frequently, this data relies on trial and error, the success or failure of other enterprises. Informative if it’s someone else; still informative, but painful, even detrimental, if it’s your own failure you’re waiting to analyze.

Two things stand out here:

  1. Stay ahead.

Trends and needs are changing all the time, and those who anticipate needs and set trends are the ones who become industry leaders and stay ahead for the long term.

  1. Put your ear to the ground.

The only way to anticipate needs and trends is either to have an extraordinary genius for doing so or to stay in the middle of the flow of change, as it happens, keeping careful notes.

Anyone can do this because it’s about asking questions:

What’s going on in my restaurant now? In other words: Where are you succeeding now? Where are you missing the mark now? What is on your customers’ minds now?

Data is key because it puts you in the dynamic center of change, in real time. This is where the most meaningful analysis, reflection, and planning happens. It gives you the power to stay ahead, invent, and avoid unwelcome surprises.

Research doesn’t do it all

But staying ahead, you say, is why you read restaurant reports.

Reports can’t do it all for you. And reports will tell you that. A recent report from SevenRooms, for instance, has found out that customers are more heavily relying on a highly customized experience. It’s not all about the food, but about each aspect of a customer’s time with you, from hanging coats and seating to the last cup of coffee and the check. To keep up with specific details surrounding how customers like to be cared for is more and more indispensable to restaurant success.

So how do you collect relevant, real-time data on your restaurant’s progress? And what if you could get it all from customers themselves?

The Original Review solution

Implementing Original Review means putting hundreds of new data points a day at your fingertips, straight from diners. And it’s designed to dovetail with existing operations, so it doesn’t interrupt your flow.

How it works for customers

When they pay the check, diners can answer up to five customizable questions through the OR survey. These quick questions cover all key aspects of experience and leave the option for open-ended feedback. They can also include unique questions you design, for example, to test a new menu item or marketing strategy. Finally, diners can opt-in to receive information about offers, events, and discounts with a click. Customers feel cared for, and you’ve closed the communication gap. Now you can provide them with an ever-improving personalized experience.

How it works for you

You receive dozens to hundreds of reviews per day. Each review includes the name of the server and table number so that you can track progress with specific staff. You can also intervene when needed before customers walk out the door. An optional alert can let you know instantly when any review drops below a certain number of stars. Data collects and accumulates on an easy-to-read analytics platform so that you create the kind of statistics you want to see, spotting trouble, growth, and potential early.

And it’s not just for the urgent. Over weeks, months, and years, your collected data builds a big picture, giving you a long-term advantage for change and risk. With OR you gain unlimited perspective, and finally, crack the code of what’s on customers’ minds.

Ready to find out what your customers really want from your restaurant?

Sign up for your free demo of Original Review today.

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