The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive in the market, where 60% of businesses don’t make it up to the 1-year mark. With new restaurants popping up every day, what makes one better than the other? Is it the food, the location, the ambiance? Although all of these are contributing factors, the backbone of restaurant success is one - good customer service.
The main goal of a restaurant is to serve customers, to provide them with a place where they can gather with friends and family and have a good time, away from the hustle and bustle of regular life. There is nothing guests value more than good customer service. In fact, an analysis of online reviews by ReviewTracker found that “service” was the most frequently used keyword in reviews.
It’s evident that good customer service is the key to restaurant success. How, then, can restaurant owners ensure that they are creating memorable guest experiences?
By asking the guests, of course.
The best way to measure the success of your customer service is by understanding what diners feel about their experience. Are they satisfied? Unhappy? Somewhere in the middle? Collecting comprehensive guest feedback is the only way to find that out.
Restaurants that don’t collect feedback are ignoring their customers’ voices and losing revenue on the way. As an owner, it can be hard to look at your restaurant objectively and identify what’s missing, which is why it’s important to listen to what your customers are saying and take their opinions into consideration while making strategic decisions.
Collecting guest feedback is not a new concept. Restaurants have been doing it for decades in many different ways - by simply asking guests how their experience once, dropping a short star-rating card, and most popularly, through restaurant comment cards.
What Are Restaurant Comment Cards?
Restaurant comment cards have been one of the most commonly used forms of collecting guest feedback. The server drops a simple card with a few star ratings and generic questions like “How was your experience?” or “Would you recommend this restaurant to a friend?” to the guests after their dining experience and collects feedback from it.
Although they are a simple and quick way of gathering data, with the evolution of the restaurant industry, comment cards are becoming increasingly obsolete. Here’s why:
1. Low response rate
Comment cards can be quite an inconvenience for the guests because they’re given right after the diners finish their meal. If they’re with friends and family, they would most likely not be in the mood to spend time filling out a form, it will act as a disturbance to their dining experience. This leads to low response rates for comment cards and therefore, a lack of guest feedback being collected at the restaurant.
2. Lack of information
Comment cards usually include a list of non-descriptive questions and check-markers asking guests to rate their experience which barely provides enough information. So even if customers filled them out, it would not be of much use for evaluating the restaurant’s performance and customer satisfaction levels.
3. Unreliable data
Because comment cards have to be filled out within the restaurant, there is also a likelihood that the feedback provided is not honest. Many guests shy away from sharing their honest opinion in comment cards for fear of confrontation.
Collecting feedback through comment cards involves a lot of manual work. Not only do you have to design, print, and store the cards in 1000s, but also compile and record the data manually in your system. This takes up a lot of the staff’s precious time and effort that can be dedicated to more important tasks.
The New Way of Collecting Guest Feedback - Post-Dining Surveys
Clearly, with the growing fast-paced environment of the restaurant industry, comment cards are no longer an effective way for collecting guest feedback. How, then, can restaurants keep up and ensure that their customers are being heard?
Enter digital post-dining surveys.
Post-dining surveys are a digital and more comprehensive form of restaurant comment cards that overcome the latter’s issues and help in collecting guest feedback efficiently and effectively.
Supported by many table management and feedback systems like Eat App, post-dining surveys are automated feedback forms that are shared with guests on their email within a few hours of their dining experience and give them an opportunity to provide their honest feedback as per their own availability.
Here are some advantages of using digital post-dining surveys:
1. Automated surveys
Most digital post-dining surveys work with an automated system, i.e., the surveys are sent out to customers automatically, without the need for any manual interference, after their visit to the restaurant. This saves time and effort and also ensures that each customer receives the survey request.
2. Higher response rate
Post-dining surveys are sent out to guests once they have left the restaurant. This gives them the time to respond to the survey on their own time which increases the response rate, as opposed to having to fill out comment cards right after finishing their meals at the restaurant.
3. No manual work
As these surveys are digital, all the feedback is collected in a system automatically and does not require staff to compile and record the data manually. This is another time-saving feature of digital surveys, and also minimizes the risk of error in recording data
4. Better insights
Because guests get to respond to these surveys in their own comfort, they are more likely to provide honest feedback about their experience and take the time to provide a comprehensive explanation of what they liked/disliked about the restaurant. This provides the restaurant with a deeper, more reliable understanding of its customers.
How Restaurants can use Digital Surveys to Optimize their Customer Experience
Due to the efficiency of online surveys, restaurants can build a continuous feedback system that provides the team with customer insights on a daily basis.
Here’s how restaurants can use digital surveys to optimize their customer experience using Eat App:
Step 1: Share digital survey with your guests (you can automate this process through Eat App and have surveys sent out to diners within 12 hours of their reservation)
Step 2: Conduct a quick overview of the survey responses that are all recorded under a single dashboard on your Eat App system
Step 3: Easily access and print out your daily response report that includes all the information about reviews that were received the previous day
Step 4: Use your printed report in daily meetings and review yesterday's feedback with the team. Identify immediate issues and assign tasks to action them as required.
With a system like this, changes to service can be made in real-time and any issues can be addressed immediately to avoid further problems and complaints.
Make the switch from old to new
One thing we know for sure - customer feedback is the key to success. And although there are many ways to collect said feedback, some ways are better than others.
Digitalization has changed the way guest feedback is collected. It’s time to say goodbye to your trusty comment cards and say hello to the modern and efficient way of collecting feedback through digital surveys. However difficult it may be, it’s also becoming necessary to keep up with your customers and competitors. It helps you gain deeper guest insights and saves time and effort throughout your operations.