7 Ways Your Restaurant Can Leverage Real-Time Customer Feedback
What if you could know what customers are thinking, all day, every day? What difference would that make in your restaurant? Here are seven ways you can leverage real-time customer feedback to maximize the performance of your restaurant and develop your leadership edge.
How-To Leverage Real-Time Customer Feedback
#1 – Get the big picture.
Imagine trying to do a puzzle. You only get a handful of pieces to work with, you’re on a timer, and you have to tell, before the buzzer is up, what kind of image the puzzle is adding up to. If you’re in charge of a restaurant, the hectic business side may not feel so different from this puzzle scenario. You’ve got to see the “big picture” in a consistent and timely way, so you can grow, fix, and change.
But no one can spy into every moment of every aspect of a restaurant’s daily life. You can only catch a few “pieces” at a time. Real-time customer feedback gets you as close as possible to the whole picture. Each bit of customer feedback gives you a new puzzle piece with which to work. From service and staff performance to food and atmosphere, you can leverage real-time feedback to get the big picture.
#2 – Build Real-Time Metrics.
Data is power. When well-organized, real-time feedback tells you how your restaurant is performing, even in the moment. You don’t have to wait, or wonder. Metrics can reveal concrete, measurable answers to questions like, Has the swordfish gained popularity since last week? How is the new server doing? Is anyone complaining about the music? Which tables are too close to the A/C vents? Were people satisfied today, or not?
Percentage rates and easy-to-read infographics like pie charts, bubbles, and line graphs make this kind of analysis a snap. Original Review’s platform does the heavy lifting for you. Our dashboard feature leverages real-time feedback, both metrics and customer comments, to create automatic, real-time measurables you decide how to use.
#3 – Spot Patterns and Improve.
Once you’ve got enough puzzle pieces, you start to find patterns. Gathering and analyzing metrics over time, a real-time feedback platform helps you spot what’s succeeding from the customer’s perspective. You can compare this information over weeks, months, even years to leverage for all kinds of improvements, from quick fixes to adjusting hiring practices or long-range goals.
Some questions you could ask include: What days are we getting the best service ratings? What times of day snag the highest ratings for music and atmosphere? The lowest? How do different shifts perform by comparison? How did the new menu perform over a month?
Spotting patterns among plentiful data gives you a wider perspective on the health and success of your restaurant.
#4 – Help Your Staff.
Sometimes you might spot a pattern regarding staff. In that case, it’s your job to run interference, inquiring, supporting, and helping them to improve. Sometimes it may mean letting someone go. Other times, there is an underlying issue that requires compassion and wisdom from you to decide how to proceed. Still other times, the trouble might be with a shift manager or an organizational snafu.
The point is, you can catch problems early and identify the origin. Dysfunction often increases or goes deeper underground when not addressed. With real-time feedback and good metrics, you don’t have to wait until things get really bad, guess, go on hearsay, or hope you catch the issue. Problems get recognized and resolved when performance flags.
#5 – Encourage Your Staff.
The other side of this coin is that excellent service and food will stand out. So will excellent employees and particular shifts. “Honey catches more flies than vinegar.” In the same way, encouragement, support, quick words and gestures of praise and thanks go a long way in boosting morale, building relationships, and improving the work environment.
Real-time feedback can also give you insight into how employees are performing well vs. how they might struggle. If you’re invested at all in mentoring staff or nurturing leaders, recognizing strengths and weaknesses can help you guide them into greater career development.
#6 – Intercept Trouble.
It typically takes an extremely unhappy customer to ask to speak to a manager. Most people who are simply unsatisfied, unimpressed, or annoyed by their experience do not get to the point of asking for you. If they do complain, they might do it online, when it is usually too late for you to resolve the issue.
With real-time feedback, customers can leave reviews on an electronic tablet, discreetly. So that even with mild dissatisfaction, you know exactly where to go to make amends. With OR, you can even set up customized alerts for negative reviews.
Not everyone will love your restaurant for themselves. But every customer could leave with a positive experience and the ability to recommend you to others.
#7 – Build Your Online Review Base.
This one has mystified restaurant owners. How do you bulk up and manage your online review base? Online reviews work like word-of-mouth: they’re one of the strongest ways potential diners receive information about your restaurant and decide whether to try it. People who read online reviews feel they are reliable. You want your reviews to reflect your restaurant positively, accurately, and with more than a few reviews to recommend you.
Real-time feedback is the ideal way to capture web reviews. Original Review automatically populates your exclusive review page with every review you receive from customers—dozens, even hundreds per day. This adds up over time, giving your online presence real muscle. And because you can address problems before diners walk out, you have the unprecedented ability to manage and cultivate positive reviews.