Surveys can be a valuable resource when it comes to understanding your customers. Here’s how to make the most of your guest surveys while driving frequency and spend.
During COVID, one of the biggest factors that determined the success or failure of some food franchises was how well they listened. The ones that thrived immediately saw that consumer preferences were quickly shifting with the pandemic, and they needed to get a finger on the pulse of where these trends were headed. In fact, recent studies have found that companies that were able to maintain strong relationships with their customers fared the best over the past year and a half. These were the brands that had the most insight into consumer trends, purchasing patterns and dining habits. They were also the ones that took a chance on asking.
Their tool of choice? The tried and true customer survey.
Restaurant surveys are an essential tool for evaluating your service standards and improving customer satisfaction. Surveying customers provides brands with a wealth of information about how guests feel about your menu options, food quality, customer service, and overall restaurant experience. Beyond the valuable information that you can take in, surveys can also influence your customers’ spending habits and potentially modify the frequency in which they choose to dine with you.
When creating and distributing a new survey, brands often measure success by specific metrics such as the number of stars they are likely to receive, but there is so much more that a survey can tell you. Beyond survey response rate metrics, surveys have key influencing metrics that can help improve customer lifetime value while building frequency of visitation from your guests.
Here are our top 4 tips on utilizing survey results to gain insights on your customer base and what the response rates mean for delivering future engagements with your guests.
1. Use Customer Satisfaction Surveys to Measure Quality & Effectiveness
This is a pretty simple concept. Ask your customers questions, and they will deliver responses on how your brand is executing across quality and service metrics. Customer surveys are an awesome tool to measure the quality of your business process. Most quality systems are rooted in understanding real customer needs and ensuring all of your business systems are focused on meeting those needs with as little waste as possible.
Yet, it’s easy to get tunnel vision about customer satisfaction surveys. One trap is to look at the surveys as a “grade” or evaluation of your performance. That’s one aspect of the survey, but an even more powerful feature of a good customer survey is that it opens up the conversation for how your business is engaging with its customer base. Are you creating promotions that connect with guest needs? Are you executing the right channels so guests can engage with your brand in ways that make sense to them? Are your operational systems adapting as your guests’ needs adapt?
Instead of just analyzing and reporting on metrics from your survey system, why not drill down into the results and connect with specific customers to get deeper insights into what’s missing for them and their experience with you. Concepts with an active loyalty program, such as Punchh, can use these insights to segment and target guests with personalized offers based on their affinity to respond to surveys or the responses collected from specific consumers. Utilizing this data, marketers can expect to drive additional visits just by participating in a survey journey and delivering engagement that activates their customers based on their individual responses. This could include inviting dissatisfied customers back, rewarding guests who provide feedback or just incentivizing high-value loyalty members. Using this strategy you might just discover a real competitive advantage hiding in your feedback.
2. Guests That Fill Out Surveys Have More Emotional Investment in Your Brand
Our Punchh solutions team was recently looking into our customers and how surveys were being used. What they found was quite interesting. With access to the results of over half a million surveys distributed across the course of a two-year period, our data analytics team dove into what customer responses to surveys meant and how that affected their overall loyalty to the brand. It became apparent that guests who took surveys and responded positively to their last visit were more likely to visit more often and be more loyal to the brand. Even more importantly, our research showed that users who participated in a survey indicated a higher rate of emotional investment in the brand, even when not necessarily giving just positive feedback. This type of emotional stake is often hard to identify and replicate but surveys seem to be a tool that can help not only segment these customers but also promote them through their loyalty journey.
While it might seem obvious that happy customers would be more likely to return to a restaurant where they had a good experience, the key factor here is that they are also more willing to engage with you as a brand because they were more apt to fill out a survey. To that guest, your brand had enough value for them to invest time in engaging with you via the survey. The key here, they are open to more engagement across multiple channels, not just from the dining experience. In turn, they are also more likely to respond to offers and to proceed faster along a loyalty journey. That means survey respondents, particularly satisfied responders, are much more sensitive to targeted campaigns and personalized promotions, making them a critical part of growing your business.
We recommend segmenting these survey responders and driving further engagement with timely offers that can encourage repeat purchases and frequency. You also could target them with experiential gifts or exclusive offerings to help drive stickiness with your brand. These are your most loyal customers. Deliver the right engagement, and they will reward you with higher rates of loyalty.
3. Positive Responses on Surveys Indicate a Faster Return Rate From Your Guest
So now that we know happy guests are more likely to respond in surveys, what does that mean in terms of sales and repeat visits for your brand? The good news is, our study found that customers who are more likely to respond to your survey AND respond favorably are also the guests who will return quicker to dine with you. In fact, our research indicated guests who rated their last experience as perfect (or a 10) are statistically more likely to increase visits within 30 days, as well as indicate a rise in frequency within that 30-day window. Our results showed members that filled out a survey and rated the experience a 9 or less were only 18% likely to visit again in the next 30 days, while respondents that rated the restaurant a 10 or perfect score saw visitation jump up to 26%, a 44% increase in likelihood. 46% of those would visit multiple times within that 30 day range. Therefore, brands that are able to influence scores and encourage an experience of 10, can improve their sales and motivate additional visits from these customers.
Our recommendation, deliver more surveys to your guests so that you can identify those that had the right experiences with your brand and so that you can activate more engagement with them. By delivering the right, timely offers, you can help drive higher rates of frequency from your most loyal customers, as well as cultivate them as a brand advocate.
4. Surveys Can Help You Arm Your Employees With Customer Insights
Now that we have the guest feedback and understand where these guests fit within our loyalty funnels, we have to use this information to help us operate in a fashion that continues to deliver the right engagement. There are so many benefits to customer satisfaction surveys, and there are innumerable ways that you can use them to deliver innovation within your organization. What surveys should not be used for is as a benchmark or tool on the overall performance of employees.
While you should be engaging them in the conversation about the results, make it clear you understand it’s not a complete representation of their overall performance. One great way to engage your employees in the survey system is to encourage them to be part of the solution. In fact, using this philosophy will:
- Keep your employees more engaged in the business. They will know how their efforts impact the lives of customers and naturally respond to improve engagement.
- They will give you deeper insights and possibly even solutions into how to improve on those results.
Innovation often cannot happen without the buy-in of your operators and your staff. By engaging them in the survey system, they can continue to deliver deeper insights into how your operations, systems and offerings can improve.
Our advice, create a system that routinely shares insights and responses from your customers and creates an open, honest forum where staff and management can provide their thoughts and ideas on how these processes can be improved. Keep identities, store locations, and specifics private. Track performance metrics as new changes are facilitated based on these responses, and don’t be afraid to share the results. Did the change/suggestion positively impact engagement with your customer, or (as a team) are you back to the drawing board? Make sure to celebrate your wins and cultivate a culture that supports this type of feedback. After all, internal surveys and feedback are as integral to your business as external as they ultimately can create a loyal following within your four walls.
Above all else — never stop asking questions. Never stop engaging with customers and your staff. And most of all, never rest on your laurels. Use your survey system to its full advantage and make sure it powers your innovation and loyalty program in the right way.
*This survey study was conducted by Rahul Verma on the Punch Analytics Team. Results were delivered by performing a two-pronged analysis to establish factors that could potentially impact survey participation rate: visit pre-and post-survey fill date and a visit study based on sentiment score. The study was evaluated by analyzing the results of survey respondents across multiple Punchh customers and comparing those results against sales trends within various channels. Materials around this study are confidential, created, and shared by Punchh. All results are based on Punchh analytics and should not be shared, transferred, replicated, or reproduced.
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