Updated: Jun 21, 2020
As restaurant owners, our goal in this business is to bring our customers back again and again, and again. Seeking customers' feedback is one of the great ways to do that.
William Wilson gave Making Dough Show a chance to talk about this very significant topic. Wilson is the Founder and CEO of Bloom Intelligence.
His company specializes in the WiFi Marketing and Customer Intelligence platform. They help restaurant owners market their business, boost customer loyalty, and increase sales.
Their software allows restaurants to send promotions, and conduct surveys to customers. So Wilson had a lot to talk about the benefits of surveying and obtaining customers' feedback.
We have summarized our interview by highlighting some of these important questions that Wilson willingly gave answers to:
What are the benefits of surveying customers after their visit?
To get the food to the customers at the table as fast as we can. To provide the friendliest service, operations, marketing and all that.
As restaurant owners and managers, these are the things that we tend to focus more on. We don't have a strategy in place when it comes to what goes after that.
There are two basic things in the economics of the e-restaurant business.
First, it ciphers to keep current customers and to get a new one. Second is that most customers who have a bad experience leave. They don't rate you and never come back.
So you must create tools so you can actually get customer's sentiment after they leave. What you want to catch is their thoughts after they visit and the key to that is to have the right mechanism in place.
You must ask yourself if it is a good review, how do I maximize that exposure? If it's a negative review, how do I respond that in a timely way?
The timeliness of your response matters.
If someone has a bad experience and take the time to leave a negative review or comment online, how do you react to it?
How do you make it positive? How do you make a path forward so that it shows to other people who see it that you are taking care of them and that you care?
By the time customers leave a negative review online, it is too late. They felt so bad that they decided to figure out Yelp, it may even be their first time to open an account.
They get pissed even more because they are wasting time over this. If only we had a system in place where we get all our customers' feedback, we could have turned things different.
We may not know the percentage of people who have a poor experience and leave bad reviews. We could only assume that many don't actually go leave a review or don't come back.
So, if we have a system in place to get in touch with them and show that we do care, that is valuable.
What is Restaurant Customer Comment Cards?
(What are there pros and cons?)
A comment card is a card that you see that the server leaves after they give you your check. Most of the time, you see it on the table topper, saying, "Leave us a review" or "Give us some feedback about your experience."
In general, the concept is something that every restaurant needs to do. That is to measure customers' feedback on a more personal level. It is vital to be in touch with them to know how they feel about your restaurant in many ways.
As a restaurant owner, you want to find out not only the positive things but also where your weak points are. You need to know where you can improve on, and that's how you build a strong operation.
Leaving a comment card out and giving them the ability to create a feedback mechanism is very basic. Most restaurant owners are keen about keeping their customers center of their operation.
There are more methods to do it. You can do the traditional way where you print them out and ask specific questions.
But then you didn't create mechanisms on the back end, how do you pull the stats into one centralized area? How do you make a way that you can analyze it?
You need to make sure that you have a consistent process to respond to negative and positive reviews. This is about building a customer relationship at the end of the day.
So the basics of comment cards are printing them and coming up with relevant questions.
Sometimes we are going through a discovery process. We identify what type of questions we want.
Sometimes it is good to ask your customers like, "What are your concerns?" so we can jump into action. Ask questions, but you should not be afraid of the negative feedback. Keep in mind that everyone gets negative feedback.
The idea of doing the comment cards is so valuable. But, the logistics are hard to handle because folks are busy. Only a few customers take the time to fill them out.
Also, forms are expensive to print, it takes time to plan, execute, analyze, and work on them.
What are some specific questions we can include in the Comment Cards?
It all comes down to your customer's basis on what your product is.
You can go with a general question like "How's your experience today?"
It's broad, but if you are going to ask that, make sure you create specific feedback into that.
Get exactly what they like and what they dislike. You can say, "What is that thing that you dislike about your experience?"
It allows you to ask them for the things that are bad or they dislike. You do want that negative feedback to come out so that you continue to improve.
It is hard to ask that question, but you need to embrace it, this is what business is all about.
For instance, you want to get customer feedback on a specific menu that is giving you a high-profit margin.
Then you can use net promoters like, "On a scale from 1-10." You can also make a 5-star response like, "How likely are you to recommend us to your friends?"
That gives you a standardized way to start measuring what is good, and what is bad for your customers. You start seeing that trending on specific areas, and you can be proactive.
Being proactive not only on how you respond to your customers. But understanding that it is an alignment to your management, to your team, and to your customers.
Managing that communication gap. Sometimes the management has these great insights on improving the process. But they don't want to get their team involved. Hence, not getting authentic data.
If you can't measure success, how do you know what success is, right?
The first year or two can make or break you if you don't get a handle of the feedback you received from customers.
You don't have everything sorted out yet, so you are a little bit disorganized.
That is a critical time to figure out what matters most to your customers. Do that and fix those problems.
Many times when we talk to business owners, they will say that they don't have time for feedback.
But what they don't realize is that the first 6 months of your restaurant is when you are going to be the busiest. Everyone wants to try the new place, but what happens after that?
If you are not consistent in grabbing the feedback and use that process to improve, it is useless. How do you put those mechanisms in place for you to operate from one location or two locations or more?
At some point, it is not about your gut feeling or your thought how well do you know your customers, it is about the data.
What can a restaurant owner do to start this culture of welcoming feedback?
Having the culture as a company of seeking feedback is what we should aim for.
It does not matter if you are slow or you are busy all the time. It needs to become a culture to honor our customers. It comes from the top, it goes all the way down when we receive feedback and welcome it.
If you see someone having a great experience, ask them to give you a review on TripAdvisor, Google, Yelp, etc.
Building a culture to ask for a good review is a useful tactic. "Please give us a review on TripAdvisor" is a great example.
There can be a lot of missed opportunities because we don't ask. Everybody is busy, and they may have a fantastic experience right there and then.
They may even give a compliment to your servers or food or service, but they walked out if you don't ask for it.
We lose so much opportunity for not asking. There are a lot of people who have great experiences, but it is not on their radar to give feedback. So if we don't ask for it, we won't get it.
How does WiFi marketing work in surveying customers and collecting feedback?
To describe what WiFi Marketing is in a simple way, imagine someone walks into your location.
Whether they log in to WiFi or not, we start collecting a numbness stat. We may not know who they are, but we captured how long they have been there.
We provide actual key performance and gather within a dashboard for our clients. At some point, customers log in to WiFi, that's the actual time where they opt-in.
Then we build a digital profile and associate it with their device-level information. This way, we have an understanding of our customers' behavior.
We identify who they are, and then we start remarketing to them based on their behavior.
So when someone leaves a location, an hour or two after they went away, you want to set up a survey for them.
You can say, "How's your experience today?"
We allow them to give you anywhere from 1-5 star response.
Let's say they provide you 4 stars above, then we ask them to give us a review online. "Hey, thank you for that great rating, please remember to share your love on TripAdvisor."
If customers give a negative rating, you can provide an instant reply. That goes out to your management so they can answer real-time or you can set up an automated response.
For example, if someone gives you a 3 star below, say sorry and offer a simple token. "Sorry for that bad experience today, here's your free cookie to give us another try."
When they come back to your location, and then they leave, we can send them follow-up feedback. "Hey did you see improvement from your last one?" Now we can start using feedback loops that automate and that are passive.
How can WiFi marketing benefit restaurant owners?
It is important to get feedback on every restaurant.
But we have different kinds of restaurant owners. Some of them are in the beginning and are not profitable yet.
It is necessary to put in place some sort of system to get feedback. We need to get better, so we become profitable, and this is why WiFi marketing has emerged.
If you are an online company, you have a website. You have the tools to know when people are coming to your website. You will know what they are doing on your site and what content are they interacting with. You will also identify what they are purchasing.
And when at some point they register, the company will now have their profiles. We use all the information that reflects, we start marketing based on who they are as a buyer and their behavior. This is exactly what we are doin