How to Create and Run Successful Customer Surveys

Gathering information about and from your customers is important, especially in the restaurant industry where customer satisfaction is key to success. The more you can learn about your customers and what they expect from your business, the more feedback you’ll have to improve your services, products, and in the end, your bottom line.

Running a customer survey is a great way of getting vital data on your business, allowing you to gain insights into anything from your customer service performance and food to your service offerings and website, as well as analyzing overall customer sentiment.

The information gathered when conducting a customer service can in turn be used to increase repeat purchases and customer loyalty, help you carry out more efficient marketing tactics, tailor specific services to suit your customers better, and help identify issues in your restaurant.

An effective customer survey starts with a clear and specific goal. If you don’t know what you want from your customers, it makes it almost impossible to gather any useful information. You’ll potentially end up spending time and money on redundant data with no way of applying it to your business.

The more specific you can be regarding your survey goal, the better. Do you want feedback on your new membership program? Want to know what your customers think about your latest special? Or do you want to gather opinions leading up to the opening of a new location? Whatever your goal is, be sure to write it down in as much detail as possible to give you a solid basis for your survey.

It’s worth considering how you’re going to deliver the survey. Your options are plentiful; sending out an email, hosting the survey on your website or elsewhere online (like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms), via social media, and in the restaurant as a physical form are some ways of conducting your survey.

More important than how the survey is delivered is when. The goal of your survey often dictates at what point you ask your customer to take it. A few examples on when to send out your survey below:

  • Post-visit surveys: Post-visit surveys are perfect for gaining insights into customer satisfaction, staff performance, and product quality is gathering feedback directly following or soon after a visit to your restaurant.
  • Periodic surveys: Periodic surveys are a great tool for collecting feedback on your online activities, website, and social media presence, as well as specific, time-limited, or prospective products and services.
  • Continuous surveys: Regularly gathering quantitative data such as customer feedback is a great way to ensure consistent quality, anticipate customer sentiment, and allows you to discern any issues early on.

When it comes to actually putting together your customer survey, you want to make sure your questions serve the purpose of giving you answers relevant to the goal you set. Below you’ll find a few tips on how to increase the effectiveness of your survey:

1. KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)

You don’t want your customers to lose interest when filling out your survey, so keep it simple, concise, and to the point. Don’t use lengthy forms with ambiguous or convoluted questions. Avoid asking multiple questions in the same sentence whenever possible. Respecting your customers time is important — only ask for information important to your goal.

2. Open-Ended Questions

Although it’s beneficial to start your survey off with a few simple yes/no, multiple choice, or scaled questions to keep your customers attention, what really gives you qualitative data to analyze is the use of open-ended questions. Letting your customer elaborate on their answers will often encourage more insightful responses.

3. Incentives

The jury is still out when it comes to whether or not  to offer your customers an incentive to take your survey. While it may motivate more people to submit feedback, some claims have been made on the possibility of biased results (with customers feeling compelled to submit positive responses in anticipation of a reward). An alternative would be to reward your customers after they’ve filled out your survey without explicit prior announcement.

4. Combine Digital and Physical

Physical surveys, although more time consuming in collating responses, is an easy way to conduct a survey in your restaurant. Alternatively, consider printing cards with a URL to your survey and inserting them into your guests’ checks (or print the link on the customer receipt) so they can fill it out at their own convenience. This delivery method could also be utilized together with retargeting to gather additional responses.

Finally, it’s time to gather all your data and analyze it. Examine the answers you’ve received; what did you learn? Did the feedback correlate with your expectations or did you uncover unanticipated information?

The most important thing about conducting a customer survey is using your findings to improve your business according to the data you collected. Once you’ve completed your analysis and have a plan for implementation, let your customers know. They will appreciate being acknowledged and letting them know their voices have been heard will further encourage them to take any of your surveys in the future.

All in all, customers surveys are a great way of gaining invaluable insights about your business from your customers perspective, allowing you to improve where needed. When well-executed, customer surveys are a perfect tool for restaurants eager to enhance their operations and make informed, data-driven business decisions.