Is your restaurant losing customers? Have you identified the causes for the loss? It may be important to get new customers to visit your restaurant, but it is even more important to retain existing customers. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has definitely changed the dynamics of the industry and adapting to the new normal has presented some unique challenges. But in the end, it comes down to ensuring recurring sales.
50% of restaurant guests agree that food quality is a factor that influences whether they return to a particular restaurant. This is an important factor to consider when it comes to retaining your customers, especially in light of the post-pandemic scenario where people prefer to cook at home rather than dining out. 50% of consumers say that they are more likely to cook meals from scratch since the pandemic began. However, it might surprise you that food quality is not the only issue which could lead to loss of customers.
Top factors that made customers return to a restaurant in 2020 (Source: Toast, 2020)
People do prefer locations that offer good quality food, a clean and hygienic environment, friendly staff, and digital solutions to make the experience even more convenient. While most restaurants focus only on improving food quality and operations to ensure they retain their customers. 90% of restaurants fail to address the delay in response to guest feedback and complaints, which leads to really unhappy customers.
American Customer Satisfaction Index scores for leading quick service restaurant chains in the United States in 2020 (Source: Statista)
Customer satisfaction is important for restaurants because it ensures repeat business. After all, no restaurant would like guests to visit just once as it would be impossible for the business to grow and scale up purely on the basis of new customer acquisition. The American Customer Satisfaction Index scores for 2020 highlight the preference of customers with respect to the brands that provide the best customer satisfaction. Chick-Fil-A has not only topped the list for 2020, but has been on the top since the last few years. QSR brands like Dunkin Donuts, KFC, etc managed to stay just above the industry average of 78. However, if you look at the brands that are below the average benchmark, you will realize that food quality may not be the only issue as brands like McDonalds are known for their quality standards.
Guest satisfaction is based on various factors including service quality, technology solutions, convenience, proximity of locations, and most importantly, feedback management. Yes, guests do consider feedback and reviews to be a critical element while evaluating a restaurant’s efforts towards delivering an overall experience.
Restaurants do focus on their operations for enhancing overall efficiency, but they often fail to address the delays in communication, especially for customer feedback and reviews. This creates stress and dissatisfaction which eventually leads to loss of existing customers as well as potential who might be considering visiting the restaurant. As a restaurant operator, you need to address this issue immediately if you wish to increase customer retention for your business.
Expectation of guests from feedback & complaints
Unhappy guests are not uncommon in the food service industry. Even the best brands get complaints and negative feedback regularly because it is impossible to please everyone. However, it is possible to ensure that such complaints and feedback are attended to and closed properly. The biggest mistake that restaurants end up doing is to leave complaints unattended or incomplete. Even if the complaints are being attended to, there is no proper communication to the customers (in most cases). In such a situation, why shouldn’t someone become unhappy and decide not to visit a restaurant again?
Guests may consider food quality to be a decisive factor, but they understand the occasional errors where the food quality may not be great, or the service was not as per expectations. But they do provide an opportunity to the restaurant to fix the issue. What they do not expect is ineffective communication or no communication at all. Just imagine, if customers vent out their frustration on social media, then it could be a PR nightmare for your business. Moreover, it would have a direct impact on sales as people prefer relying on reviews before visiting a restaurant.
How to manage guest feedback effectively?
By responding to guest complaints with a simple acknowledgement, you will be able to manage the situation better. Further follow up can be done as per the support required. Without a proper digital solution for feedback management, complaints do not get tracked and the issue might be left unresolved.
The first thing that you, as a restaurant owner, needs to do is to ensure that the complaint or feedback mechanism is set up properly. Usually, emails are used for receiving feedback which gets documented and then follow ups can be done over call. The next step would be to integrate a guest feedback management solution which would allow you to track each feedback in a simple interface. Most importantly, all cases can be assigned to the right person to ensure that the concerns are addressed effectively.
One of the largest Dunkin Donut franchises in the US implemented the guest feedback management solution from Workpulse (as part of the operations management platform) and managed to reduce the response time by 50%. With the complaints and feedback being addressed properly and on time, the franchise was able to retain its customers better through direct and prompt communication. Implementing the solution only took a couple of minutes as it integrated easily with the existing feedback mechanism while providing real time monitoring of all complaints.
If you need help with improving customer retention for your restaurant, then request a consultation from Workpulse. We will help you achieve 360-degree operational excellence by streamlining food safety, preventative maintenance, employee performance management, audit planning, and customer retention. With the pulse of your organization in the palm of your hand, you will be equipped with actionable data to make informed business decisions.