Building Restaurant Customer Loyalty by Learning to Really Listen

As a restaurateur, you already know how important it is to deliver an experience that your customers want if you hope to have them return to your establishment – let alone recommend your business to others. One of the simplest ways to ensure that you are meeting and exceeding their expectations is, quite simply, to ask for feedback. That said, just asking for general feedback isn’t enough – you’ve also got to ask the right questions, ask in the right way, and act on the information you get.

Ask Your Customers Questions that Really Matter

Learning to ask the right questions of your customers makes all the difference in the world when it comes to getting truly useful feedback about improving their customer experience. Many restaurants make the mistake of asking only questions that are designed to help them better understand their customers’ habits rather than questions that help them understand how they could improve their experience.

For example, while it may be useful to know how often your customers eat out or where they tend to go, it is more instructive to ask questions about how you could improve their experience with your establishment or what you could do to entice them to return more frequently.

Provide Multiple Avenues for Constructive Feedback

Not everyone is comfortable providing honest feedback on the spot. Therefore, it’s smart to provide multiple avenues for customers to tell you how they are feeling. Whether this comes in the form of feedback boxes on a customer’s check, social media pages where they can post their feelings, or simply hospitality ambassadors whose sole job is to make the rounds while people eat to make sure that everything is up to par, you want to provide multiple avenues for people to talk to you.

You want to encourage honesty and breed a constructive environment through which you can gain information. Rewarding your employees who get great feedback is a part of this process too – the more that people can see the tangible effects of their efforts, the more likely they are to continue their good work.

Close the Feedback Loop by Taking Action

Last but not least, you want to make sure that you actually take action on the feedback you have garnered. Going to the effort of collecting feedback from your customers but then not bothering to do anything with it can actually hurt your business more than if you didn’t ask for feedback at all! You want to encourage honest responses and demonstrate that you’re really listening by nurturing an attitude of ‘let’s fix it!’ This breeds a culture of respect and integrity that your customers will truly appreciate.  

Taking the time to gather genuine feedback from your customers has the dual effect of helping you create an establishment that truly exceeds peoples’ expectations while simultaneously building the loyalty of the customers who frequent your restaurant. There is always room for improvement and in today’s economic environment, it is more critical than ever to do everything within your power to ensure that your customers’ experience is as remarkable as it can be.

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