Getting to know what your customers think about you is an essential for the long term growth and strategy of your business. Only when you know yours customer’s opinions, likes and dislikes, can you tailor your offerings to give them the perfect experience and make them wanting to come back again and again.
The matter assumes even more importance in service related businesses, since they do not have any rock solid product to fall back on, rather dependent entirely on their customer’s reviews and ratings. It is no surprise then, that most of the restaurants ask their customers (or rather, guests) to fill in a feedback form after they have completed their meals. The restaurant managers consider this a part of their daily routine, and more often than not, these collected feedback forms get filed up in thick volumes, never to be seen again. Hardly any analysis is done with feedback forms submitted over paper.
The second and much more worrying issue with these paper based feedback forms is a delay in addressing the guest’s complaints. An angry guest walking out of the restaurant can do more damage than you may think. The rapidly expanding social media is becoming a serious threat by providing a platform to disgruntled customers to vent out their anger in public domain. And the spiraling effect of social media networks, wherein a single comment or post can traverse across millions of screens with just a few clicks is even more disturbing for owners and managers of service related businesses, particularly restaurants. Word of mouth, they may be aware, is effective and now in the digital age, has become quick and omnipotent.
This is where digital customer feedback platforms come into the picture. A short feedback form presented to the guests towards the end of their visit can go some way in helping them vent their frustration over minor lapses in services inside the confines of the business, and not in full public view over the Internet. While restaurants have been capturing feedback with the traditional pen-and-paper method, an online feedback capturing tool may well be the next big thing to take this industry by storm. Following are few of the benefits offered by an online feedback tool compared to its low-tech counterpart:
Imagine going to a restaurant and being presented with a boring sheet of paper with boxes and columns along with an even more boring looking pen to fill it up. Now imagine being presented with a cool new gadget (tablet/ iPhone) in which the customer can convey his experiences with a flourish of his hands and (literally) a swipe of his fingers. No points for guessing that the latter option is going to be way cooler for the modern generation of customers.
Such a feedback form can be easily linked up with an SMS alert service that can be programmed to send an SMS alert to the staff on duty when a negative review is being filled in, so that the concerned staff can resolve the matter with the customer without any delay, thus preventing a customer from leaving the premises feeling disgruntled.
With an electronic feedback collection system, gone are the days of filing up pompous paper reports in thick, dusty files and losing important feedback related reports in the endless depths of musty reams of paper. All of your data can be stored over the cloud (an online information storage and retrieval mechanism) from where it can be accessed easily awhile maintaining utmost privacy of sensitive data.
Keeping track of your loyal patrons and giving them customized service may be the key to retaining them for the long haul. With electronic feedback collection systems, collecting information about loyal customers becomes far easier, almost automatic in fact, as the program recognizes newly entered names from its database and adds frequenters to it. The program goes a step further by recording their preferences and favorite orders. They may even be asked if they have any seating preferences, and reservations for them may be made before their next visit. Introduction of gamification can also induce guests to increase their visits and purchases, or participate in promotional events.
Routine work can become mundane, while humans have a tendency to be attracted to situations that encourage excitement and stimulate competitive environments. Gamification is the concept of applying game based theories to non-gaming environments. This can be particularly useful in service based businesses, where servers have to be involved in the boring aspect of fulfilling guest’s wishes day in and day out. Introducing game-based concepts may include- awarding points to servers on their performance/ awarding points to various branches of the restaurant for the business attracted/ loyalty points for guests to encourage them to participate more etc. These may be applied even without an electronic feedback mechanism, but the presence of one would make their implementation far easier.
Analysis and Reports
Saved the best for the last. This is where the true power of online feedback collection lies. Feedback collected electronically can be easily sliced, diced and mined to gather interesting trends and analysis about what customers like, or want corrected. Most online feedback capturing tools come with in-depth reporting and powerful analytics that can help the manager separate the wheat from the chaff at first glance and pinpoint the problem areas to elevate their business to greater heights.