Really want to know what customers think? Make it easy for them to tell you

Really want to know what customers think? Make it easy for them to tell you

By Georgina Nelson, CEO and founder, TruRating

QSR operation today increasingly demands restaurateurs be on top of their game when it comes to truly understanding their guests' impressions of the brand and its offerings. But, most operators will grow old waiting for customers to send online feedback after they've either visited or received food delivery and the data proves that as you'll see below. 

Nonetheless, in a world where food quality and brand experience has perhaps never been so important to a long life in the business — especially with those coveted millennials — it's more important than ever for restaurant owners and managers to fully understand all aspects of the guest experience, including getting to better know their customers. 

Having the ability to collect truly representative, real-time feedback from customers — tied to sales — is going to be critical moving forward to optimize the guest experience, increase repeat visits and boost same-store sales. 

The following three qualities give operators a clear idea why instant customer feedback helps you better solve your operational problems and take advantage of  opportunities to create the best guest experience in quick-service today. 

1. Hearing the customer voice  

One of the biggest drawbacks to gathering customer feedback is the fact that diners typically don't have (or want to make) the time to answer traditional online surveys. Research shows that customer survey response rates often hover around 2 percent and are far worse with receipt-tape invitation approaches. When you consider the time and money that goes into pushing out surveys, hearing back from such a small fraction of your customer base is frustrating and leaves many often questioning the validity of the data.

At TruRating, our data indicates that a one-question survey at the point of purchase can result in response rates as high as 88 percent, where each response is tied to the particular items the customer ordered, as well as how much they spent and other key transaction information.

Leveraging this approach, in combination with traditional online surveys, is quickly becoming a best practice, allowing restaurateurs to tap into and learn from that once-silent other 98 percent of their customers who weren't sharing their impressions in more delayed response channels. 

2. The power of one question

Insights generated from validated, real-time customer feedback are extremely powerful, but it all starts with making sure the questions you ask will deliver the necessary, valuable information — especially when only asking one question per customer.

Imagine hearing from more than 80 percent of your customers regarding how they were greeted, their perception of the menu or simply how likely they are to return or recommend your restaurant.

Keep in mind, you don't want to ask the same question repeatedly for every customer. Instead, it is far more beneficial to rotate the questions. This enables you to learn about various customer perceptions and specific aspects of the guest experience throughout the day, every day of the week and at every location. These types of insights, tied directly to sales, are what enables a business to both test and learn faster than ever before, as well as improve day-to-day operational execution with extreme detail and precision.

Here are a few examples

  •  Compare customer service scores both before and after a new training program to measure how effective the training was and if there are further areas for improvement.
  • Pinpoint which of your restaurant locations or particular shifts are experiencing inefficiencies by asking about variables that may be impacting the guest experience and comparing those against sales.   
  • Gain a better understanding of the effectiveness of specific, targeted promotions or marketing initiatives by asking customers what brought them into your restaurant that day. 

3. A forward-looking focus

Though there's value in understanding the customer experience, single-question surveys can also be effective in delivering a more holistic view of your QSR. From operational efficiencies to building customer loyalty, there are many ways to harness a simple question to access insights that can change the way you do business. 

The changes you make to your restaurant require investments of time and effort, and with real-time feedback you can make sure it's worthwhile. Want to test out a new menu item before fully integrating it across all your locations? Use instant feedback to know if it's something your customers will actually purchase. Curious about the effectiveness of a coupon or rewards program? Real-time feedback can shed light on the ROI for activities before you're in too deep. 

This method of surveying your customers also allows you to understand what the perception of value is for your restaurant by knowing how your customers feel about an increase in menu prices. Coupling instant customer feedback with the sales and transaction volume of your business can quickly paint a compelling picture. 

There's no limit to the ways in which point-of-sale feedback can help your restaurant business evolve for the better. Rather than putting your effort into survey methods that customers likely won't notice, consider using new technology to increase response volume and feedback value. In addition to existing methods of collecting feedback, give your business a competitive advantage by exploring the strategy of asking one question at the point of payment.

Photo: iStock

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Communications, Customer Service / Experience, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Online / Mobile / Social, Operations Management, Systems / Technology, Trends / Statistics

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