Management | Industry News & Trends
Customer feedback is a guiding light in the restaurant industry. No matter how well you plan, or how thoroughly you craft the guest experience, you’ll never get to experience your restaurant as your guests do. Even if you sit at a table for a whole shift and watch – which you should do – you still won’t get the full picture.
The only way to know what it’s like to dine at your restaurant is to actually ask your customers, and you can do this by conducting a brief restaurant survey. You can obtain guest feedback through a survey, in the form of comment cards, through an emailed or texted receipt, or on your handheld POS system. You can ask in person, or look around for what people are already saying on Yelp and other review sites.
However, if you’re not asking the right questions in your surveys, you won’t obtain useful information that can improve your restaurant. For example, don’t ask two- or three-part questions. You’re likely to only get an answer to one of them, says Restaurant Engine. Be sure to mix multiple-choice questions with open-ended ones that give the customer a chance to explain their opinions, says SurveyGizmo.
Here are 30 questions that you can choose from to put on your restaurant survey. By no means should you use all of them – no one will take the time to answer all of them – but look through these and decide which ones you need answered in your business. You can also rotate the questions to gather different types of feedback at different times. Once you've chosen your questions, read on and learn what to do with the answers.
Don’t conduct a survey without asking both of these questions in some form or another. You’ll learn about your biggest strengths and weaknesses across the whole operation. More on other ways to ask these questions below.
Gather information about your customers, how they heard about you, and the basics about your restaurant.
These questions will address issues of accessibility and cleanliness in your restaurant.
The food and drink at your restaurant is typically the main reason why someone chose to dine there, so make sure your menu is at its best.
Danny Meyer of Union Square Hospitality Group says, “the way we were making people feel was even more powerful than what we put on the plate and in the glass.” Your service can have a huge impact on whether or not a first-time customer becomes a regular, so make sure everything is in check.
If you’ve recently implemented new POS technology, it’s worth asking your customers how they perceive the user experience. If you’re offering delivery via an online ordering provider, make sure that the food is arriving quickly and that it arrives fresh.
It's important to gather feedback as frequently as possible, so one way to get the most important questions out of the way are through your POS system. Toast’s Guest Feedback feature texts or emails the following question to a customer, as a follow-up to their answer on the thumbs up / thumbs down question on a Toast Go POS, Kiosk, or Online Ordering.
You can also approach this type of question by measuring your customer NPS (Net Promoter Score), like Saddleback BBQ does. NPS is a calculation of what percentage of your customers are your promoters, and what percentage are your detractors. Saddleback’s simple survey asks “How likely are you to recommend Saddleback BBQ to someone you know?” (with a 1-10 rating), and asks for an explanation why. Then the results are tallied up (you can use the NPS calculator that Saddleback recommends, provided by Delighted) and you’ll have an idea of how many of your customers promote you in their circles – and how you can get that number up.
Now that you’ve got your questions in order, it’s important to actually implement some changes that your customers have asked for, explains Vertical Response. Otherwise, your guest feedback initiative has gone to waste. You don’t have to fix every single issue that’s mentioned on every comment card right away, but you should absolutely keep an eye out for severe issues and commonly mentioned issues.
Anything that has to do with health or accessibility should always be addressed right away, as well as any issue that has been written by a very angry customer. Here are a few examples of severe issues that should be addressed after one report:
When dealing with reported issues that revolve around personal preference, it makes sense to wait and see if it’s a trend before making a big change in your restaurant. For that reason, it’s important to track guest feedback and analyze it every week, at least. Any of these three complaints mentioned more than a few times could be indicative of a larger issue:
When it comes to gathering guest feedback, it’s crucial to be asking the right questions on your restaurant survey. Reflect on what aspects of your restaurant might need some work, and build out your survey from there. Don’t just ask the questions you’ve seen on other restaurant surveys; one size definitely does not fit all.
Finally, make sure your restaurant survey isn’t too long – don’t provide a survey that you wouldn’t want to take as a customer, explains SurveyGizmo. You can provide incentives, like a chance to win a gift card, if you find people are hesitant to give their opinions. Then use the information that you collect to make your restaurant the best it can be.