As a rule, you should only ask someone for their opinion if you’re prepared for what they might say. And although honesty is (nearly) always the best policy, the truth can hurt!
Many operators go along quite nicely not really troubling themselves with what their customers really think, because hey, business is pretty good, so that must mean everything is ok right?!
The best performing operators take customer (and staff) feedback VERY seriously. And they don’t just collect opinion, they respond to it and most importantly learn from it.
Smart operators know that no matter how much they know about their business, listening to the people that drive that business i.e those customers and staff, is the most effective way of staying in business.
But how do you get that valuable insight from your target market.
Introducing ‘The Feedback Card’
The feedback card is given to your guests at the end of their experience in your bar, restaurant or hotel.
Don’t apologise for handing out a feedback card. By giving your customers a chance to tell you exactly what they thought of their experience you’re telling them that you value their opinion and their business. Encourage your guests to be honest and tell them that you appreciate ALL feedback
Ask for name, email address, and date of birth. Now you’ve got the start of a database as long as they agree to you adding them. (There’s far too many benefits to having a database to list here so I’ll do that in another article) Mobile numbers and addresses are fantastic but a lot of people won’t feel comfortable about giving those details on a card
Food & drink
Ask what they ate and drank. If the same things keep cropping up you know that you have a problem with those particular items and can more efficiently deal with any issues
Who what when?
Asking the time, date and name of server if applicable helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses meaning you can make the changes needed to make things consistently great
Find out about the quality of your service, product and value for money by using a 1-5 scale. It’s quick and easy and therefore much more likely to be completed that in depth questions. It also quantifies the responses numerically, allowing you to see what your ‘average score’ is and produce a statistical account of your feedback.
Sign me up
You need permission to put someone on your database but by including a big ‘sign me up’ tickbox you’re more likely to get the response you want.
Other bits & pieces
If you’ve got the space ask how they heard about you to find out if your marketing is working, and give space for your customers to write their own comments.
Knowledge is power
Use your cards as a basis for team talks and staff meetings. Reward great feedback and thoroughly investigate negative feedback
Now you’ve got it, use it
Always respond to negative feedback. Sometimes responding to a bad experience in the right way makes you more popular than if nothing had gone wrong at all! Send vouchers or personal thanks for great feedback and work at reducing the amount of mediocre feedback.
Make sure your staff are trained, knowledgeable and confident so they look forward to getting their customers feedback
And remember, it’s 10 times cheaper to get an existing customer to return than it is to attract a new one