Business and Operations
Making Dough with Diane: November 2012
Customer feedback: 6 ways to get it
As in any good relationship, communication is key. And one of the big keys to a successful business is to develop good relationships with your customers. The feedback you get from customers is incredibly valuable to your pizza operation. However, it doesn’t come easy. Most customers who are dissatisfied with something will not speak up. They will simply walk out of your place and never return, and more than likely will tell all of their friends or post on the Internet about their poor experience.
|Place a locked box near the exit for customers to drop comment cards in before they leave your establishment. |
A successful operation needs to be proactive in constantly improving its business to satisfy its customers’ needs, and the best way to discover those needs is to get feedback. Getting feedback should be ongoing, and not just a one-time project. Once you have received the feedback, it’s also important to take action, and then tell your customers that you have listened and taken action. This will make your customers feel that you care.
Here are some ideas on how to get valuable feedback from your customers.
Talk with your customers
The best way to build a relationship with your customers is to talk with them. Ask them what they think of your pizza, what else they think you should offer and how you can improve their dining experience. Listen to what they have to say, and if they have a good idea, implement it. This will also show your customers that you are truly interested in what they have to say, and willing to take action to please them.
Get your customers to fill out a comment card. Provide incentives for them to take the time to write down their thoughts, for example, the opportunity to enter a draw or a free appetizer. Today, it is much more common to ask customers to fill out their comments online. If you provide a physical card, make sure that you provide plenty of pens or pencils. Either include a prepaid self-addressed envelope for customers to mail the comment card back to you or place a locked box near the exit for customers to drop the cards in before they leave the restaurant. This last measure is important to ensure all feedback is submitted; your employees may not submit cards that contain negative comments about their own service.
Hold a focus group
If you are planning to launch new menu items or a new promotional plan, consider holding a focus group. Offer free drinks and a free meal as compensation. Have the focus group try out your new items and ask them for their feedback. Remember that these are the folks who will be ordering the items, so their opinion counts!
Send them an e-mail
Ask your customers for their e-mail addresses at the point of purchase. Send them an e-mail thanking them for their patronage, and asking them for feedback. Again, a small incentive may need to be given to obtain the e-mail address, but it is worthwhile.
Read online reviews
Always check online to see what others are saying about your pizza operation. If you receive negative reviews, make contact with the reviewer to try to remedy the situation. Offer an apology and an explanation of how you plan to fix the problem, and invite them back for a free meal. Most customers are willing to forgive if you are sincere.
Read body language
Learn to read the body language of your customers, and react immediately if you sense that a customer is unhappy or dissatisfied with something. Train yourself and your staff on how to deal with a disgruntled guest. Never allow an angry customer to walk out your door.
Communication is at the heart of a great relationship with your customers. Pay attention to what they have to say and you’ll have the chance to truly improve your pizzeria.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or by e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com.