How To Survey Customers And Get Usable Insight And Feedback

How To Survey Customers And Get Usable Insight And Feedback

Hand your customers a survey card right after their meal.

Do you know what makes your customers happy? Do you know why some of them return time and again, and why some of them don’t?

If you can’t answer these questions, it’s time to craft a survey. It’s time to ask your customers these questions. Surveys are a valuable tool for finding out what makes your restaurant work and what doesn’t.

In this article, we’re going to talk about how to survey customers and get usable insight and feedback.

According to LinkedIn, it costs between four and 10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

Add that to the 80/20 rule that says 20% of your customers produce 80% of your sales, and you can see why it’s so important to know exactly what your customers think about your restaurant.

Let’s get to it. Here’s how to survey customers and get usable insight and feedback.

Creating the Survey

Before you create and send out your survey, you want to ask yourself a few questions. If you skip this step, you’ll miss out on usable insight and feedback and miss an opportunity to ask the pertinent questions.

First, ask yourself who you want to survey. Will you survey your current customers, or will you reach out to potential customers? This also depends on what you want to learn.

If you want to know what your current customers like about your restaurant, they are your target market. If you want to find out why someone has never eaten at your restaurant, your target is vastly different.

Next, you want to think about how you’ll conduct the survey. Will it be through the restaurant on survey cards, or will you conduct it solely online.

The third question to ponder is why you want to conduct the survey. This is perhaps the most important part. Here’s where you’ll list your objectives. For example, you just introduced a new main dish, and you want to know what people think. Or, you want to know if your customers would be interested in a full bar.

Next, plan for when you’ll conduct the survey. Will it be ongoing for several weeks, or short term? Note that the longer you leave a survey open, the more likely you are to get a fuller set of responses.

Lastly, ask yourself what you want to glean from the survey. You have many options here – ask about your menu items, the cleanliness of your restrooms, your location and the service provided by your staff.

It’s important to keep your survey questions short, simple and easily understandable. Don’t use terms that might be unfamiliar or wordy questions that have your survey-taker abandoning the survey.

Don’t make your survey too long either as people will quit paying attention to their answers the longer the survey.

A basic recommendation when asking questions is to use no more than seven answer choices. (tweet this) And, with these choices, don’t ask for a rating scale, but provide one. You want to know if they are extremely happy or unhappy. Don’t ask open-ended questions either.

Use customer comments to improve your processes.

Use customer comments to improve your processes.

Getting Customers to Respond

Many restaurants offer their customers an incentive for completing a survey. This could be a percent off coupon, free dessert or appetizer. The goal is to provide something of value to the customer so they’ll feel inclined (and a bit obligated) to answer your survey completely and authentically.

We recommend offering a discount to customers for completing a survey to increase the quality and number of returned surveys.

The Traditional Survey

The traditional survey is much like one you’ve probably taken yourself.

For this type of survey, you create a survey in a program like SurveyTown or SurveyMonkey and send the link to your email list and social media followers. You give it a week and hopefully you have some feedback.

You can also give this survey to your customers right after they’ve eaten. It can be in the form of a paper card, or if you’re using tabletop kiosks, you could include it right there.

Here are some tips for making the traditional survey work for your restaurant:

Don’t make it too long. Your customers don’t have an unlimited amount of time to answer your questions. Ask only your most important questions and try to stay between 5-10 questions at most.

Only ask what you really want to know. Since you already asked yourself the purpose of the survey, don’t venture from it when crafting questions. Ask only the questions you really need and want the answers to.

Give it time. When sending out a digital survey, give respondents a fair amount of time to answer. Most likely it isn’t something they’re going to attend to the first time they see your email. It may sit in their inbox for a few days.

Don’t ask more than one thing in your question. Sometimes survey creators ask two questions in one sentence. Don’t do this. Keep it simple.

Surveys on Your Website

Another type of survey is one that lives right on your website. It can stay there indefinitely, and you can collect feedback long-term.

It’s easy to set up an online customer survey. And, when it comes to a website survey, keep it short. This isn’t the place for the traditional long survey. Keep to 1-3 questions that relate in some way to the page the visitor is on.

For example, if it’s your online menu page, and the customer is looking at desserts, this is a good place for a dessert question, but not a question about the quality of your steaks.

Analyzing the Data

At your survey’s completion, compile your data and analyze it. If someone made a negative comment, and you have their contact information, be sure and respond personally.

Once your data is compiled, take a look at it. With your manager and/or staff, make plans to improve poor processes or menu items. Decide what must be fixed first and create your list from there. Make this an actionable list with time frames.

Don’t fall prey, as so many do, to a survey with great responses that no one attends to.

Turn your customer feedback into a positive with your staff and encourage them to help you make the changes so your restaurant is top of the pack in your city. (tweet this)

The Takeaway

Now that you know how to survey customers and get usable insight and feedback, it’s time to take the first step. Sit down and ask yourself the first questions. Involve your staff in the process for better buy-in when the responses start coming in.

Restaurant customer surveys let you know what’s working and what’s not. Surveys are an invaluable tool and can help you target areas for improvement.

You may be surprised at what you hear. You’ll find out if your restaurant meets your customers’ expectations or if it doesn’t. You may find out if and when they plan to return to your restaurant or recommend it to others.

Your customer survey feedback can help you make important business decisions while placing your restaurant a step above the competition.

Have you every surveyed your customers to get usable insight and feedback? We’d love to hear what worked for you when conducting your surveys. Did you do it in the restaurant, through email, on your website, or in a combination? Please share your thoughts below.

Images: Kai Schreiber and


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