There is a lot of buzz around customer feedback sites and what customers are saying about your restaurant – and more importantly, what potential customers are reading about your restaurant. Let’s face it, 79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (Brightlocal).
There are countless articles on how to respond to negative feedback – and our data shows that customers who received a restaurant response to their feedback spend 14.4% more and visit 11.7% times more often, so it’s worth it! But there is one important step you must take even before doing that, and it’s something that could change your business: You must believe their comments.
The key is to take the emotion and the ownership out of it. You work hard on your restaurant, on the food served, on the service provided. It’s why you’re in this business. That’s why it’s so hard to believe a customer didn’t enjoy their meal or their experience was below expectation. However, to really hear what customers are saying, an important step is to take your emotion out of it – it’s not personal, even when it feels that way.
Looking objectively at customer feedback can be eye-opening and may lead you to operational improvements, additional staff training or even changing customer needs – just because it always worked in the past doesn’t necessarily mean it works in today’s quickly changing customer landscape. These types of improvements can lead to even more customer loyalty.
One tip is to create a spreadsheet with categories for the various themes that you see in customer feedback, both positive and negative, such as: service, take-out, ordering, menu, food (break out between breakfast, lunch, dinner if applicable), etc. Take the personal nature out of comments and document the actual issue at the heart of each. Date it. Assign a sentiment. Take notes. In excel, you can later sort this by category and by sentiment, and look for patterns and consistencies. This will help you objectively see what customers love and what may need a second look. Seeing it all in one place may help you see patterns that should be addressed, vs. quickly reacting to one-off comments.
Example spreadsheet sorted by Subject and Sentiment: