How to Design Restaurant Surveys – Part 1: Benefits

Benefits of Restaurant Surveys

Part 1

Online connections make it easy to get honest answers to questions about dining preferences, service and food quality. Most restaurants encourage their servers to check with customers after food is served and ask if everything is okay. Managers, dining supervisors and cashiers might repeat the question. The question becomes almost worthless when repeated ad nauseam.

Customers usually answer positively or grunt if they’re tired of the question. Unfortunately, most customers don’t say what they’re really thinking for fear they’ll hurt feelings or cause staff to do something nasty to their food, a common fear that is completely unjustified. Social media networks are ideal forums for publishing restaurant surveys and learning about the opinions of targeted demographic groups. Sometimes, restaurants want opinions from customers, but answers from random people are also beneficial.

Advantages of Restaurant Using Surveys

Gathering unbiased and uninfluenced data has become increasingly important for advertising strategy, engaging customers and building a restaurant brand. How do restaurant managers get information they can trust? Surveys give customers or targeted dining prospects a place where they can share their opinions honestly and at their own convenience.

Depending on the style of restaurant, surveys offer the following potential benefits:

  • Find why customers order certain foods.
  • Determine factors that lead to repeat business.
  • Assess customer opinions about organic foods, vegetarian entrées, availability of foods for special diets, restaurant service and cleanliness.
  • Discover what people think about culinary trends.
  • Get detailed information about menu additions customers would like.
  • Give people a chance to complain anonymously about any aspect of their restaurant experiences.
  • Assess restaurant competitors and what features they offer that lure customers away.
  • Analyze which promotional methods are delivering the best results.
  • Learn what customers think about the restaurant’s prices.
  • Track changes in customer perceptions over time.
  • Strengthen customer loyalty by demonstrating that the restaurant is committed to improving its service.
  • Learn about customers’ mobile behavior and how they use phones to find restaurant information, reviews and locations.

The list of benefits applies not only to the restaurant’s food and atmosphere but also to marketing initiatives, website design, customer service and the other services that restaurants provide.

Survey Incentives for Customers

There’s a fine line between encouraging a customer to take a survey with an incentive and bribing the customer. Bribed customers could skew survey results. Receipt-based surveys might offer a coupon or discount code for completing the survey or a chance to win a prize. Restaurants can present customers with in-house surveys preloaded on tablets as digital-survey tools. Customers might consider such tableside surveys to be a fun distraction, or restaurants can offer a free beverage or dessert for completing the survey.

Restaurants can also encourage their servers to mention surveys to their customers and explain any incentives or benefits that taking a survey could provide. Many customers, especially in upscale restaurants, get an incentive from knowing their suggestions will be considered.

Choosing How to Present a Restaurant Survey

Restaurateurs can use various ways to get customers’ opinions that range from traditional guest-satisfaction comment cards to online surveys on restaurant-supplied tablets. Restaurants can print cash-register receipts that include short surveys or promote a survey on the restaurant’s website, Facebook page or independent site. Surveys can be included in emails, promotions and newsletters.

Options include designing a survey in-house, using a template or hiring an external consultant. Digital and printed surveys offer different benefits. Some customers might not have easy access to the Internet, but that is becoming increasingly rare. Of course, information on printed materials must be transcribed or transferred to be useful, and the chances for human error increase.

Gauging Satisfaction

Restaurants that gauge their customers’ satisfaction get increased repeat business, more guest referrals and information that saves money. Managers can find which promotions work and which don’t and get actionable data that allows them to change their marketing tactics. Surveys can generate positive feelings in customers, inspire loyalty and even encourage people to spend more money during each restaurant visit.