When customers choose to visit a restaurant, they are looking for a memorable gastronomical experience. This experience depends on the quality, freshness, and taste of food; the décor, ambiance and hygiene level; and, the staff courtesy and prompt service, among the other parameters.
Feedback solicited from customers can give you an insight into what they like about your restaurant and what they expect. Based on their comments and opinions, you can work towards not only delivering a great dining experience to your customers but also build repeat patronage and boost your brand image.
Unfortunately, most restaurants either don’t take feedback or fail to act upon the feedback. According to a research, 43% of customers who were surveyed stated that they don’t complain or leave feedback because they don’t think ‘that the business cares’. Out of these same customers, 81% admitted that they would be willing to give feedback if they are assured that they would get a fast response.
Now that you know why customer feedback matters, here are different methods to collect the same.
1. Face on: Face-to-face feedback
Your waiting staff is the best person to talk to the guests, develop a rapport and gauge their reactions, expectations, likes and dislikes. Bengaluru-based Thai cuisine specialist, Benjarong employs staff – guest interaction method to gather on- spot feedback from its customers.
2. Put it in writing: Feedback forms –
Many restaurants prefer to collect feedback through a printed and structured questionnaire. In this method, a feedback form is circulated to the guests while they are waiting to pay the bill. For instance, Barbeque Nation across all its outlets requests every customer to fill a short feedback form to understand how they would rate their dining experience.
A few big hotels keep a feedback form in the guest rooms, requesting the guests to drop these forms in the suggestion box at the front desk.
3. Go mobile: Mobile POS feedback system –
Many restaurants have introduced MPOS (Mobile POS) to enable the guests to give their feedback in just a few clicks. In this method, a tablet or any other handheld device is handed over to the customers at various customer interaction points. Due to its speed and convenience, this method is gaining popularity among restaurants. POSist’s feedback management app allows you to gather your customer’s feedback. You can also set alerts for poor reviews, which enables you to control the damage immediately.
4.Social listening: Social media feedback–
A survey revealed that restaurants are the most searched business on the Internet and 88% customers read reviews to determine the quality of a business. Hence, restaurants cannot defy the influence of customers’ opinions expressed on social media platforms. You can conduct polls or ask open ended questions about your food, services or ambiance. You can even keep a tab on what reviews customers have posted on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Burrp, Zomato or Mouthshut. When you gather feedback from social media, it is crucial to reply promptly, either by thanking for a positive review or addressing their grievances.
5. On the line: Online customer surveys –
A questionnaire can be uploaded on websites like surveymonkey.com and emails can be sent to customers requesting them to answer the questions. However, many respondents tend to skip the survey. A promise of a discount coupon upon completion can encourage them to answer the survey! This kind of survey is especially useful for online food ordering or takeaway eateries which do not have much face to face interaction with customers.
6. “So what do you think about…”: Focus groups –
Restaurateurs can conduct focus group interviews to gain a real-world insight into what customers can say. In this method, a group of 10-40 people is selected and asked what they feel or how they perceive the restaurant. Offer them a free meal or discount coupon to encourage them to participate in this activity.
7. “You’ve got to hear this”: Community groups and discussion boards –
Nothing can beat the good old gossip when it comes to getting to know what people really think. In its online avatar, this gossip has been christened as community groups and discussion boards, where like-minded customers are interacting with each other. Restaurants can use this information to offer tailor-made recommendations to their customers. Last year, Hong-Kong based CACHET Hotel Group launched its online community platform ‘CACHET World’ to facilitate personalized interactions and experiences.
8. Click-click: Web analytics-
This method can generate amazing results for online food ordering restaurants. Based on which food items your customer click the most or in which areas of the city most orders come from, you can know what your customers want and how you can serve them better.
In any business, including restaurants, every customer opinion counts. Also, do remember that gathering feedback isn’t enough, acting upon it is equally important.