Owning a successful restaurant is all about staying in touch with current trends and staying in tune with your customers. While you have invested in the best website money can buy, and spent time and effort keeping your Facebook page up to date, if you are not actively surveying your customers, you won’t really have your finger on the pulse of what is happening in your restaurant.
Surveying your customers provides you with a wealth of information about how your diners feel about your menu, food, customer service, and overall restaurant vibes. When you survey your customers, you can get an inside look that can help you make changes and improvements to your restaurant. It also helps you understand where you shine and where you fall short. You can use survey information to tweak your presentation and to market your restaurant to new customers. Follow these survey tips to get started.
Knowing the Right Questions to Ask
If you’re delivering your survey online, Survey Monkey and Google Forms are some of the best services to use. They allow you to easily create surveys, collect the data, and analyze it. With Survey Monkey, for instance, you can create any type of survey from very simple ones to more intricate questionnaires.
While you may know a fair amount about your customers beforehand, you will never truly know exactly what they want and need from you unless you ask them. This is why surveys have been a staple in most industries for many years. They allow you to collect information directly from the people who support you, and you can then use that information to improve your service. However, the type of questions you ask – and how you word them – is a key to getting the information you need.
Avoid Yes/No Questions
The yes/no question is the dead end of survey questions: It doesn’t give you “actionable data”; it stops short of being helpful. For example, a yes/no question like, “Do you like our pizza toppings?” only lets you know whether the customers either do or don’t like your offerings; but it doesn’t help you to move forward as to which toppings to add or remove. A better question would be, “What kind of pizza toppings would you like to see on our menu?” The answers are both indicative of how you’re doing so far, and how your customers would like to see you improve.
Keep Your Questions Simple
Don’t bunch a few ideas and queries into one long question. If you want to know how your customers like your food, your service. and your ambience, that’s three difference questions: “How did you like our food?” “How would you suggest we improve our service?” “Was the music too loud?” When creating each survey question, present one idea at a time. Similarly, don’t ask leading questions, along the lines of, “Did you enjoy your meal at our restaurant, and if so, why?” This question assumes your customers liked their dinner, and that they’ll tell you why. Customers will appreciate that they have more room for honesty if they don’t have to play “follow the question.”
Test Your Survey Before Sending
If you’ll be using your survey online, it’s tempting to construct a questionnaire and immediately hit the send button. However, you should make sure that you test your survey before sending it; otherwise, things can go awry, which can be annoying to the survey-taker and which will result in more work for you. Pre-test it on a few types of mobile devices and with several different Internet browsers. In addition, “test drive” it on your staff before sending it to your customer base. Ask them to complete it, and then ask them if they found any questions unclear or hard to answer. Testing your survey before sending it out will help to ensure that you will get a better response rate.
When you survey your customers, you should stay away from general questions about décor and style; otherwise, you could get unwanted opinions about the color of the carpet or the design of the drapes. Rather, focus on the most important aspects of your restaurant: food and service. Here are a few sample questions:
- Would you recommend our restaurant to family and friends? If they answer yes, take them to another question asking why. If they answer no, include another link to ask them why not.
- How often do you dine at our restaurant?
- What did you like about our food menu?
- What did you dislike about our food menu?
- Are there any drinks you’d like to see on our menu?
- How did our wait staff do?
- How do you feel about the speed of our service?
- Did our staff meet your needs?
- Please rate the cleanliness of our restaurant.
- Would you eat here again?
Although these 10 survey questions will give you a good idea of your customers’ level of satisfaction, you don’t necessarily have to ask them all at once. The best surveys are short and take less than 10 minutes to complete. Any longer than that, and survey fatigue sets in. Ask only the questions you intend to take action on immediately. You can always ask other questions later on down the road.
How to Further Boost Your Survey’s Effect
Offer an Incentive
Unfortunately, many people aren’t fans of taking surveys, so it can be tough to get enough people to willingly answer your questions. An incentive helps break through that barrier: You provide something of value to the customer in exchange for them taking the survey. Possible incentives include: a discount, a free appetizer, free dessert, a free drink… freebies, in other words, are great motivators.
Offers like these will drastically increase your response rate. They will also entice people to come back to your restaurant to cash in on their reward. Make sure your survey emphasizes that they will receive the incentive only if the survey is fully completed. That way, you maximize the amount of information gained from each patron.
Hand Out a Survey with the Check
In-restaurant surveys are just as important as online questionnaires, but there aren’t too many opportunities during the dining process to hand out a survey. To avoid interrupting the customers’ meal, try handing out your survey along with the check. Completing the survey will give them something to do while waiting for their check to be picked up, and credit card returned. It also lets your customers reflect on the meal they just had – and the service they received – while it is still fresh in their minds.
You can have your customers fill out the survey and return it immediately; or take it home, fill it out, and then return it the next time they visit your restaurant, to receive their incentive gift. Either way, handing your survey out with the check is the most natural time to do it during your customers’ dining experience. In addition, if you utilize iPads or other types of tableside mobile devices in your restaurant, you can deliver the survey quickly and efficiently through the device.
Online Surveys: On Your Website and Social Media Pages
Once you’ve created your online survey, prominently post it on your website. This ensures that anyone who visits your website will see it. You should also periodically share it on your social media accounts. Don’t spam your follower’s feeds with it, but share the survey enough that a large portion of your audience gets exposed to it. If you have an email or customer list, send an email blast explaining the survey; include a link and ask them to fill it out (and don’t forget to mention the incentive). Use all of the channels at your disposal to gain exposure for your survey, because the more people who respond, the more information you will have to work with.
Follow-Up is Good for Business
There’s no point in going through the work involved in creating a survey and gathering responses if you don’t plan on doing something with them. Follow-through is key because it shows your customers that you value their feedback and intend to act upon it. Take the survey responses to heart and make the necessary changes to fix issues that were addressed in the data you collected. Once the adjustments have been made, let your customers know that you have actually acted on their feedback. This shows that you value their opinion and the next time you ask for survey responses, people will be more inclined to respond.
Survey Your Customers to Improve and Grow Your Restaurant
In the restaurant industry, collecting information is as important as a signature dish on a menu. The more information you have about your current customers and your target market, the more power you have to better serve them and, in turn, to grow your business. Many restaurant owners make the mistake of assuming they know everything they need to know about their customers. But although you may have an understanding of your current customers, it’s still good business sense to survey them at least once a year. If you want to discover ways to improve your service, or if you’ve simply been feeling a little out of touch with your customers lately, there is no better tool than a customer survey.