How to manage and respond to customer feedback

by Mary Fabro and Mima Vujadinovic

Advice on how to respond to customer feedback to keep them happy

In our previous blog post for restaurant owners, we discussed the importance of managing and responding to customer feedback. Recognizing the importance is just the starting point. Now, let's dive deeper into the practical steps you can take to manage and respond to customer feedback effectively.

Collect feedback regularly

The first step in managing customer feedback is to collect it regularly. There are several ways to collect feedback, including surveys, feedback forms, comment cards, and online reviews. You can also gather feedback through social media, email, or in-person conversations with customers. You can even talk to staff at the end of each week to assess any feedback they personally received from customers during their shifts.

Make sure to ask customers specific questions that will help you identify areas of improvement. For example, you can ask them about the quality of food, service, ambiance, or cleanliness. Questions can also pertain to the customer’s overall experience and whether they would recommend your restaurant to others.

Analyze the feedback

Once you have collected feedback, it's time to analyze it. Look for common themes and trends that will help you identify areas of improvement. Categorize the feedback into positive and negative comments to get a better understanding of your restaurant’s strengths and weaknesses.

You can also use data analysis tools to identify patterns in the feedback. For example, if customers consistently complain about slow service during peak hours or on specific days, you can use these analytics to identify the busiest times and adjust your staff accordingly.

Respond promptly and professionally

Responding to customer feedback promptly and professionally is crucial. When customers take the time to give you feedback, they expect a timely response. Make sure to respond to feedback within 24 to 48 hours, depending on the urgency of the issue.

When responding to feedback, be polite and professional. Thank the customer for their input and apologize if necessary. If you need more information to address the issue, ask for it politely. If you can resolve the issue, offer a solution or compensation. If you can't resolve the issue, explain why and offer an apology.

Implement changes based on feedback

Once you have analyzed the feedback and responded to customers, it's time to implement changes based on the feedback. This is where the real work begins. You need to take the feedback seriously and make necessary changes to improve the customer experience moving forward. The last thing a restaurant owner wants is for a situation to become chronic – this can cause severe damage to your reputation if you become known for a specific problem that is never addressed.

For example, if customers consistently complain about slow service, you may need to hire additional staff, improve your kitchen processes, or adjust your reservation system to prevent overcrowding during peak hours. By making changes based on customer feedback, you can improve your restaurant's performance and increase customer satisfaction, leading to more positive feedback.

Follow up with customers

After you have implemented changes based on feedback, it's important to follow up with customers. Ask for feedback again to see if the changes you implemented have alleviated the problem and improved their experience. This will help you measure the effectiveness of your changes and show customers that you value their feedback.

Following up with customers also provides an opportunity to thank them for their input and to ask for their continued patronage. You can offer a discount or a complimentary meal as a token of appreciation.

In conclusion, managing and responding to customer feedback is crucial for the success of any restaurant. By collecting feedback regularly, analyzing it, responding promptly and professionally, implementing changes based on feedback, and following up with customers, you can build a strong relationship with your customers and foster loyalty. Remember, customers are your most valuable asset, and their feedback can help you improve and grow your business thanks to the positive reputation you build.