Despite its varied shapes and forms, the story told by customer feedback is remarkably obvious and simple—customers are happy when they are treated with respect, and unhappy when they are not.
Companies offering Voice of the Customer (VoC) technologies are well aware of this, as they see thousands of customer comments every day, each containing this recurring thread of common-sense logic for ensuring customer satisfaction: “Be patient and friendly. Treat customers politely and respectfully. Keep products and services in stock and up to date.”
While the majority of customer comments may be variations on the same theme, customers want to be heard individually and addressed personally. Restaurants who feel accountable to the people they serve will see that feedback can do more than inform and instruct. It creates a connection that drives better business practices, higher customer satisfaction and retention, and increased sales.
The most successful companies will see that customer feedback isn’t about simply finding what customers want, but about finding more ways to deliver it. Here are five ways restaurants can leverage customer feedback for the optimal results:
Engage and respond to customers. Respond to customers who leave feedback. Whether or not something groundbreaking is learned from their comment, it can show customers that someone cares and is listening. It can also help them connect with the brand on a personal level. Tell them how their concern has been resolved or thank them for their time.
Correlate profits to customer satisfaction. Track customer satisfaction scores alongside revenue to be able to identify which customer satisfaction habits contribute to the top performers at the store level. With this approach, customer satisfaction scores will soon be predicting the bottom line.
Promote positive comments. Customers who say nice things about companies are providing credible and invaluable word-of-mouth marketing. Share their words with the world, or better yet, help them share their own words with the world through social media.
Motivate front-line employees. Even employees who are “just working for the money” will take pride in knowing a customer singled them out for their quality service. They will work better knowing how much they can positively influence the customer experience.
Focus on individual employees. Find out who is and who isn't listening to the common sense of providing good service. Then reward or retrain accordingly.
Many companies apply these common customer comments to improve results in their daily operations. For example, numerous restaurants, as well as automotive and clothing brands, recognize and reward employees publicly in staff meetings and in company newsletters by posting real customer quotes mentioning outstanding staff members by name. One family dining chain even used customer comments to refine its training and scheduling procedures to save $2 million in labor and employee turnover costs over a three-year period.
Another company in the recreational entertainment industry decided to focus on engaging and responding to customers to improve satisfaction. When they first began using customer feedback to measure response times, many of their customers weren’t hearing back from them for a week or more. Today, however, when customers mention concerns in their comments, they receive a response within 48 hours on average. This has been just one key to their 13.4 percent customer satisfaction increase in the past two years.
Businesses with the best customer service practices will learn to shift away from the question of what the customer wants and focus on how they can effectively deliver it. As companies begin to hear and respond to customer voices individually, they will develop an invaluable connection that empowers and motivates front-line employees to satisfy and retain customers at every level.