How to Solicit Customer Feedback
Customer testimonials are a powerful marketing tool for businesses, and with so many ways to offer opinions online today, it’s a more powerful tool than ever. So, why should you care about testimonials and how can you collect great ones to promote your bar or restaurant?
Why You Should Listen
Customer feedback helps you refine the service you are offering. The following are some simple reasons why listening to customers’ thoughts is so important:
- Increase Customer Satisfaction: Studies from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Chamber of Commerce show that on average, 70% of dissatisfied customers never return. Listening to customers is considered one of the 9 customer retention strategies proven to increase customer satisfaction.
- Identify “At Risk” Patrons: By gathering customer feedback, you can determine those people that are not 100% happy. You can take this information as constructive criticism on what to change, and even use it as an opportunity to offer a complimentary drink or dish. These customers will be honest with you, and give you insight on any reoccurring problems you may need to address.
- Create Advocates: Or as we call them in the industry, “regulars.” The more you consider customer feedback, the sooner you can identify your truly committed patrons, and create advocates. Imagine a world where 100% of new business came from referrals? Make people your cheerleaders.
What Makes a Great Testimonial
An effective testimonial is written by someone from your target customer base, someone like the customers you want to visit your business. For example, if you run a sports bar with an allegiance to the Green Bay Packers, a powerful testimonial on your website might be from “Brett, lifelong Packer fan and fan of Mike’s Sports Bar” about how watching the games at the bar is a great time. A testimonial like this appeals to a similar crowd.
The testimonials you choose should also be useful. If every sentence ends with an exclamation point, and says something like “I love this place! It is so so great!,” sure, don’t throw it away, but it doesn’t give any specific detail and doesn’t demonstrate to potential customers what specifically makes your business so great. People want to know what to expect when they visit your bar.
How to Gather Testimonials
Every bar owner reaches out to their customers in different ways. This can depend on factors like environment, customer behavior, and how you run your business in general. For instance, some business owners with heavy traffic might gather feedback through in-house feedback forms, while another bar owner may choose the online route. The following are a few ways to collect customer feedback, that people have found success with:
There are several ways these days to collect feedback through surveys. The site SurveyMonkey allows you to create a link to a short questionnaire, which can then be sent out through various social media channels.
You can also display a survey right on your business site. The feedback from this method is likely to be a little more pointed, because people are seeking out the survey themselves, rather than simply receiving a link. Keep it short to one or two relevant questions.
When creating a survey for customer feedback, always remember the following things:
- Only ask essential questions. People have short attention spans, and superfluous questions will prompt some to rush.
- Keep it short and sweet. No one is taking a 15 minute survey. Stick to 5 questions at most.
- Ask questions that require actual feedback. Don’t include multiple choice or rating scales. Ask open-ended questions to get the most useful feedback.
Some bar or restaurant owners choose to have a hardcopy form located somewhere within the establishment, like the hostess stand, behind the bar, or even on the receipt itself. This is a more human approach to receiving feedback, and many business owners prefer this method. Often when a staff member is handing over that form, the lasting impression is that you care about what they think.
There are some guidelines you should consider, when creating these forms, to get the best results:
- Use a rating scale. Unlike a survey, you can use this system to track changes in satisfaction over certain periods, or quarters.
- Keep it short, and under 10 questions, with a maximum of 2-3 open-ended questions.
- Tell the customer why you want the feedback in the first place. It can even be as easy as “We want to make your time here as enjoyable as possible….etc”
- Brand your form, so if they take it home, they can remember you.
- Ask for personal details like name and number, and always follow up with strong reviews.
- Ask if you can use their opinions in any marketing.
For the bravest of bar owners, in person or phone contact is their preferred form of customer feedback. Simply asking the person about their experience yields much higher response rates, and shows the customers you genuinely care. However, it can be the most costly. Especially if you are blindly reaching out in telephone surveys.
Unleash the Reviews!
Maintain an active presence on your social media accounts. When folks talk to your business page on Facebook, be responsive, because that encourages more feedback. If someone says something positive about your bar, ask if you may use that testimonial in your marketing. Be responsive to Yelp! reviews, whether positive or negative. Polite responses to customer reviews from business owners reflects well on your business.
And when you’ve got some good testimonials (and permission to use them!), stick them where people will see them–on your website’s header, sidebars, smack dab in the middle of your homepage. Put them on every page of your website, not just the main page. If a potential customer somehow lands first on your menu page, make sure he or she will see a customer testimonial or two. If you do print advertising, include a few testimonials on it. Add customer testimonials to your social media accounts if you can.
When potential customers read useful feedback about experiences from people who they consider similar, they trust these experiences. Put this trust to work in your favor by sharing the great things your customers are saying about you!