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How to Get Valuable Customer Feedback for Your Restaurant

Industry Insights

Mandy Ellis

OCT 19, 2021


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In a COVID-19 world where digital now dominates the restaurant customer feedback experience, it’s vital to ensure pandemic dining, from selecting menu items to first bite, is still high-quality. But how do you know if your restaurant business is cultivating that quality if you don’t collect valuable customer feedback?

Pinpointing the precise issues to improve your business and bottom line means gathering real-time data and feedback from your customers. Not only because research from Bright Local shows that 71% of customers look at your reviews and testimonials before visiting, but because your reputation and the likelihood of repeat customers depends on it.

If you’ve been struggling to improve your online reviews or get feedback from social media and platforms like Yelp, Google Reviews, and Tripadvisor, there are several clever ways to fire up your feedback system. From curbside pick up to SMS/text message orders, here are four methods to increase your review numbers and get more customer feedback:

Incentivize All Kinds of Restaurant Customer Feedback

It’s easy for restaurant owners to forget that they can ask for feedback from brand new customers all the way up to multi-year loyal devotees. “Haven’t written us a review yet? We’d love to hear your honest thoughts!” Merely asking digitally or in-person for a review from a customer who hasn’t written one yet is a fast-action way to get feedback.

With the joyful, the grotesque, and the odd comments you receive, collect every piece of gold nugget customer feedback and data, then review the customer’s experience from first to most current brand interaction to make real-time adjustments. The goal is always to continue asking for all types of customer feedback (positive and negative) so you can get the most honest picture to truly help improve the dining experience and business decisions you make as you work to edge out competitors.

You also want to make sure restaurant feedback forms are available or delivered in every single digital spot for easy access: email, text and SMS, social media, takeout tablets, kiosks, mobile apps, and most importantly, your website. When you make giving guest feedback more available, it instantly motivates customers to interact with the touchpoint. Plus, with all those stellar reviews collected, you’re able to display them on your website, mobile app, social media, or other digital presences, which research from Northwestern University shows can increase conversions by 270%.

Another trick for restaurateurs to collect customer feedback is to provide a personalized promotion or coupon for completing a restaurant’s online survey. For example, a quick story: Bareburger uses Tattle to help them with restaurant customer satisfaction surveys. Through the reviews, they’re able to learn more about incidents and operational problems, find areas to improve productivity, and identify opportunities to raise service quality. Then, the cherry on top for completing the feedback questionnaire is customers receive one of the favorite menu items: a free side of onion rings.

With incentives, you’re hoping to drive second visits, essential information, and reviews as much as possible. And sometimes the best method for gaining that customer feedback is to offer a free meal item or create a tech-enabled feedback system that automatically-generates discount coupons as well as aggregates and tracks reviews. By encouraging each and every restaurant customer to leave an honest review at every connection point with your business, you’ll see valuable feedback roll in and know exactly how to pivot for a better bottom line.

Digitize Operations and POS System Integrations for Modern-Day Customer Experiences

The digitalization trend in restaurants was no doubt given a good shove by the pandemic, but it was already bubbling up. For instance, 70% of customers, including 82% of Millennials, look online now to plan their next meal, and 26% of restaurant customers would choose a restaurant with electronic ordering and payment options over other options.

But now that customers are using mobile apps, text and online ordering, drive-thrus, and off-premise or third-party delivery more than ever before, restaurant owners have to squeeze as much from their gadget as possible to meet modern customers where they’re at. That means gathering feedback through every marketing strategy funnel a customer may filter through and ensuring that feedback data is directed digitally to your POS system for analysis.

For quick-service and fast-casual restaurants, that could mean mobile POS systems or tablets for drive-thru or takeout orders, and having staff ask for feedback then record on the device hub. You could use a handheld mobile POS platform like ToastGo, Square’s Terminal, Upserve’s Tableside, Clover’s Mini POS to get in orders quickly and use native feedback options or POS integrations instant feedback from customers. While you process drive-thru or takeout payments, customers can answer a few open-ended questions and potentially offer a star rating through the checkout process. If they’re not ready at time of order or pick up, sending a questionnaire along after through the digital POS system would also help with guest feedback.

For fine-dining or full-service operations, tracking delivery or meal kit orders within a single platform integrated with your POS. Then, building your customer relationships by following up with automated messages 30 minutes to an hour after the meal was delivered thanking your customer for their order and asking open-ended restaurant survey questions to get feedback.  

Anywhere restaurant owners can take advantage of connecting their digital feedback opportunities with the lifeblood of their business, their POS, is a win. And giving as many chances as possible for customers to submit valuable feedback means you’ll be able to grow the quantity of your reviews, see inside the cracks of your restaurant business, and hopefully, raise your star rating.

Gather Restaurant Customer Feedback from Social Media

Always part of a restaurant’s marketing strategy, social media and platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Reviews can be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to customer feedback. The plus side is that 45% of U.S. diners said they tried a restaurant for the first time because of that restaurant’s social media post and 22% said a restaurant’s social posts enticed them to return. On the flip side, the flow of dining experience feedback can be fast and furious on social media as well as harsher since it’s hidden behind usernames, nondescript user photos, and keyboards.

From Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and Google, brands can interact with their customers through a multitude of means to get vital, real-time feedback: online reviews, star ratings, DMs, saves, shares, likes, comments, and hashtags. When you see a customer sharing your content and singing your praises, thank them and ask if they’re willing to offer up an honest review on your favorite platform. Or, you can DM them with your gratitude plus a promotional offer for completing an online survey.

The key is interacting on social media in ways that fit your brand aesthetic and asking for feedback with a good attitude. It’s not about the humble brag on your restaurant business. It’s about reaching the critical comments you’d miss for growth opportunities if you didn’t receive frequent, critical-but-fair feedback.

You want holistic reviews of your restaurant business from service to speed to quality to recipes to cleanliness. Many times, by interacting authentically on social media, you’ll receive positive feedback with a few notches for improvement, but the more you ask on social, the more you should receive.

Also, with 66% of frequent diners saying that seeing friends’ photos and videos on Instagram helped them decide on a fast-food restaurant, make sure you interact with loyal customers not only for retention but audience growth. Since they’ve dined with you many times, they can provide more complex reviews than a new customer and are each to reach out to via DM or comments.

Always Handle Negative Feedback From Online Reviews ASAP

Don’t miss gloss over this sticking point for garnering more restaurant customer feedback; it could be the ding that drops your stars. If consumers see unanswered negative reviews and comments, they believe your restaurant doesn’t care about its customers, the brand reputation, or the service and food quality you deliver daily. And, data from ReviewTrackers shows that 94% of consumers say a bad review convinced them to avoid the business.

When you respond quickly, research shows you get higher ratings and a more positive reputation, and that 45% of consumers are more likely to visit if you respond in a timely manner (three to seven days) to negative reviews. Especially when considering post-pandemic levels of review volumes are up 50% from pre-pandemic levels, the quicker you can adjust the negative feedback issue, the better chance of improving your ratings, number of reviews and visits, and your reputation. 

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