When customers take the time to speak to you, they, in turn, appreciate it when you speak back to them. Servers don’t typically take a table’s order without answering their questions and managers don’t typically walk the other direction if a customer asks to speak with them. But oftentimes these same general practices are not extended online. In a world that has taken so much of our one-to-one daily communication online, it is surprising that many restaurants don’t communicate with customers this way.
Bazin’s Next Door in Vienna, Virginia, is the gold standard for responding to their restaurant feedback. They use the Rewards Network Comment Management System (CMS) regularly and offer this advice to restaurateurs who may not know how to make it work for them:
Interact with Customers
Bazin’s takes the time to respond to every comment they receive through the CMS. Every ONE. They know that online feedback is just as essential as in-person feedback, and often times more honest. And they understand that if a customer takes the time to comment, they appreciate a restaurant that takes the time to respond. Not many do, so it usually stands out in a sea of competitors.
It’s easy to have a “canned” response for comments, especially positive ones. But customers can see right through that, it’s not hard to tell if you don’t put as much time into your response as they did into their comment. Bazin’s always acknowledges the specific comment to make it personal.
“If a customer compliments a specific dish, we let them know it’s one of our favorites, too, or recommend something similar that they could try the next time,” explains Debbie Casey, in marketing. “It’s a way to let them know we heard them and care about what they had to say.”
Make it Personal
Comments are a great way to not only get to know customers, but also for customers to get to know you. For example, when a customer comments on a particular staff member in their restaurant feedback, Bazin’s responds back with some information about that server to make it more personal. “In this case we may say how many years he’s been with us, or what her favorite dish might be,” explains Casey. “It’s a great way to establish relationships, let customers get to know us, and create more loyalty with our customers.”
There is great opportunity to upsell when a loyal customer comments on their experience. Bazin’s pairs this idea with the personal touch: so happy to hear you had a great dinner with us last week – did you know we have a new brunch menu on weekends? Hope to see you there soon. “We also use it as a great opportunity to introduce our regular customers to our sister restaurant next door.”
Any negative comments, though few and far between, are brought to the staff at Bazin’s and used to improve operations. Bazin’s strives for 5 stars from every customer on every attribute, so any comments less than that are used to see how they can make it a 5 star experience for everyone.
It’s not hard to establish relationships with your customers; it just takes a few minutes to say “thanks” in a way that is relevant to them. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, just genuine, to make a difference.