Having a great restaurant and serving great food at competitive prices is no longer enough. Your customers want more, so you need to meet and exceed their expectations. Without that, you’ll struggle to earn their loyalty, deal with a bad reputation, and you’ll eventually lose them.

But you already know what you need to do: collect customer feedback.

However, you can’t find a compelling reason to push you beyond the barriers that get in the way of doing it; lack of an efficient way to collect feedback, fear of criticism, and being complacent. Waiting until everything falls into place so that you start collecting customer feedback won’t happen.

And in this post, we’ll explore five reasons why you need to collect customer feedback. Some will serve as a reminder of what you’re already losing and some will give you a new perspective on the value of customer feedback.

Let’s get started.

1. Improve customer experience 

Most people visit restaurants for the convenience of a great meal alone or meet with friends and family. The process through which they achieve this matters to them. That’s why seven out of ten consumers in the U.S. will spend more money with a business that delivers excellent customer service.

In a restaurant or brewery setting, excellent customer service could be little to no wait time, the restaurant’s atmosphere, or the sitting arrangement. Customer preferences differ. If you want to stand out from your competitors, you need to ask them and know what matters to them.

A good place to start would be training your servers on how to approach customers, how to strike casual conversations, answer the phones, and the questions they need to ask to know what areas you need to improve upon.

Don’t forget that 92% of customer interactions take place over the phone and online ordering is growing 300% faster than in-store orders. So make sure you prioritize phone and online training for your employees. 

Alternatively, reach out to your customers by sending automated follow up emails to network with them. As you know them better, get customer feedback every time they interact and engage with your business both online and offline.

Ask them what they think about a new recipe you want to try or what you should improve in your restaurant’s service to provide a better experience.  

When it comes to training your staff on best practices, be sure to have a project management system to ensure everyone stays up to speed.

For internal project management, I like to use a tool like Monday to manage my team and assign out training and various tasks. 

That way, I know everyone is always on the same page and receives all the latest training and updates.

2. Make better business decisions

Every decision that you make in your business will affect your customers. For instance, if you’re operating a coffee shop and want to reduce the average wait time, you might decide to use more heat to roast your coffee beans.

The result?

You’ll end up serving your customers with coffee that has inconsistent flavors- something they’re not used to. And customers tend to look out for each other. 

If you serve lousy coffee to one man, he will tell 10 of his friends what you did. And a woman who buys your coffee and doesn’t like it will tell seven of her friends. Meanwhile, 83% of customers will happily tell a friend following a good experience. 

Moral of the story? Don’t assume anything. Talk to your customers and let them know what you intend to do. They will feel valued and learn to manage their expectations better in case things don’t work out as they expect without having to say bad things about your restaurant.

3. Meet their ever-changing needs

While gut instinct might help you know what your customers need, customer needs are continually changing. You need to understand them long before they reach out to you. And you can’t rely on your gut instinct every time to get this right.

According to Salesforce, 59% of consumers expect businesses to adapt to their changing expectations, or they will start feeling like you’re neglecting them.

Customer Feedback Food Industry - salesforce

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So you need to innovate and keep up with emerging trends. Research by the National Restaurant Association reveals that home-meal kits with pre-measured ingredients, which have been popular in 2019, will continue being popular in 2020.

Besides, consumers want to have more takeout and delivery options in your menu while some want to see you embracing open-concept kitchens to see how you’re preparing their food.

So, with these trends in mind, use a writing tool to create customer surveys that are easy to follow and quick to respond. Ask your customers the meals they’d like to see on your menu with a takeout and delivery options.

4. Improve brand perception

Long before they visit your restaurant, consumers interact with you through your ads, website or social posts, your location QR codes to find you via Google Maps, and conversations with their friends and family.

The opinions they form during these interactions play a critical role when deciding to visit your restaurant, among other options available for them.

What about those who don’t visit your restaurant because they couldn’t hear anything good about you? If another restaurant is providing these reviews, you’re losing out on potential customers.

By using customer feedback, you’re able to influence brand perception during the initial stages of the buyer’s journey. There are 2.77 billion social media users and according to Statista, 25% of these users know about brands through the recommendations they get on social media.

customer feedback food industry

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So, you have an opportunity to influence brand perception right from the first interaction on social media by posting the feedback you get from customers.

Trust me, it’s easiest just to schedule your social posts and forget about it. That way, your posts can be automated for you while you get back to running your business. 

You might even take this a step further and encourage your customers to post this feedback directly on social media, then tag your brand and a few friends. This not only helps with exposure but can even help you produce content ideas. 

Just be sure to respond to every review you get on social media because 96% of consumers read these responses to see how much you value those who have dined at your restaurant before.

Once you have the content ideas from this feedback, you can then start a blog and share valuable content based on your audience’s interests. 

This is a content marketing strategy that LFA Machines uses in the food industry to create new content for customers while driving traffic to their blog:

customer feedback for food industry tips

You could even take this a step further by starting a podcast talking about the ideas you gathered from your surveys. 

For example, is your audience interested in talking about the intricacies of various cuisines, or would they be interested in guest interviews with expert chefs around the world?  

The world is literally your oyster as far as content is concerned, no pun intended.

5. Improve brand loyalty

Every time you ask your customers for their opinions, you’re subtly telling them that you care about their needs and are willing to meet them. You might not have a chance to collect customer feedback through one-on-one conversations all the time.

Collect their contact information and set up automated emails for online engagement to drive more customer feedback:

customer feedback for food industries 30

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As you do this, use learned sales skills to offer them something in exchange for their time, such as a discount on their next meal. It makes them feel valued and inspires loyalty to your brand, hence improving retention.

When you retain 5% of your customers, your profit margin will increase by 25% – 95% because it’s easier to sell to your existing customers as opposed to your prospects.

customer feedback for food industry number 3

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Besides, happy customers are more likely to become your ambassadors and bring in new customers, hence reducing the amount of money you spend on customer acquisition.

Conclusion

Your customers aren’t looking to be impressed by your service. Okay, some are, but most of them want you to make their lives easier by meeting their expectations.

They want you to pay attention to the details—a smile, addressing them by their names, and giving them their favorite drink whenever they show up.  

Customer feedback helps you make your customers happy by doing exactly what they want you to do at the right time. And if you don’t meet their expectations, then it helps you know what you need to fix.

So, go ahead and have that first one-on-one conversation. Collect their email addresses and send them a survey every time they check into your restaurant.

Over time, you’ll find it easier to operate your restaurant because you’ve done away with guesswork and know what you need to do to keep your customers happy. 

Learn how GetFeedback can help you exceed customers’ expectations—start your free trial today.

 

About the guest author

Levi Olmstead, Community Manager at G2Crowd

Levi Olmstead is a director of marketing at 2ndkitchen. Follow him on Twitter at @levi_olmstead.

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