It’s no secret that the restaurant business is a competitive and evolving industry. Great food, a pleasant environment and friendly service are obviously integral to the customer experience that creates loyalty and improves your bottom line. In fact, “73% of companies with above-average customer experience perform better financially than their competitors” and “73% of consumers say a good experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties.”However, restaurants are not a set it and forget it business. In a consumer driven world in constant communication, restaurants must continuously adapt and make improvements to their offerings and customer experience. One of the most effective methods for encouraging ongoing, constructive communication with customers is through a feedback loop.
True to the name, this strategy utilizes a cycle (ie. “the loop”) to collect customer feedback on a business’ products and services. Through the feedback loop, restaurants are able to implement changes based on feedback to improve their business, provide the innovation their patrons expect and maintain a reciprocal connection to customers.
There are four steps to the customer feedback loop:
- Asking for customer feedback: Gathering as much feedback as possible is key to building a robust database and having a clear picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your restaurant. 77% of consumers also view brands more favorably if they seek out and apply customer feedback.1 It is wise to make sure that customers have multiple ways to get in touch to lower any barriers to receiving responses. Surveys in particular are very effective, but live chats, call centers, social listening or direct email marketing can also work well to reach many customers according to their preference.
- Analyzing and categorizing feedback: Once feedback is received, restaurants should categorize feedback by product (food/drink), customer service and marketing/sales feedback. This will make it easier and faster to identify recurring successes and failures and to identify actions to take. Subgrouping these categories based on positive, negative and neutral responses can also be helpful for identifying anything that may need immediate attention.
- Implementing changes based on feedback: Restaurants should strongly consider the strengths and weaknesses received in feedback and promptly make applicable adjustments to their business as feasible. Feedback can be invaluable insight to keeping restaurants “in the now” and providing the best service possible. On a managerial level, sharing associated feedback to all staff can be helpful in ensuring smooth transitions to any restaurant operations or menu changes.
- Following-up with customers who shared feedback: It is critical that restaurants provide a prompt response back to their customers who shared feedback (whether it be positive or negative), so that they know they have been heard. 81% of customers say they would be willing to leave feedback if they knew they would get a fast response.1 The response should be personal and genuine and thank them for taking the time to answer. It can also inform of what changes their feedback has resulted in for the restaurant (or what changes are to come). Any
After feedback travels through this loop, it is time to gather feedback once again. Many may be thinking, how am I supposed to manage a constant influx of feedback and ensure customers receive responses in a timely manner? There are many types of marketing automation software that can be useful in running a customer feedback loop. Many can categorize the polarity of feedback in a dashboard type format based on keywords or numeric ratings. Some also have the ability to auto-respond to customers based on certain triggers. While it is important that people remain a part of this process to investigate and digest feedback, these types of programs can make it much quicker and easier to regulate responses and eliminate any human error.
A feedback loop can be an extremely effective way to engage with customers and for restaurants to see themselves through the eyes of their patrons. Don’t miss the opportunity to advance your business and ultimately your sales!
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