For years, reading restaurant comment cards has been the only way for hospitality operators to collect guest feedback en masse. However, these postcard-size surveys are hardly effective.
Upon evaluating 96 comment cards from various hospitality businesses, researchers at Liverpool Business School found that the cards failed to produce reliable feedback. The study evaluated comment cards’ appearance, use instructions, question style, return instructions and more, and discovered that they didn’t follow best practices for design, making them poor data collection instruments. The failure of feedback cards for restaurants makes them ripe for disruption.
Fortunately, the restaurant industry is in the midst of a digital transformation. Diners used to have to pick up the phone to place a takeout order or make a reservation. Now they can do both of those things online with a few clicks or taps. The COVID-19 pandemic has digitized the dine-in experience too. Mobile order and pay technology now allows guests to request and pay for food from their phones.
Revolutionizing how restaurateurs gather customer feedback is the next frontier for the digitization of the industry. While many businesses still use restaurant comment cards to find out what diners think of their experience, there’s a more efficient and effective way to do this. Learn how you can reimagine and digitize restaurant comment cards to solicit more feedback and improve the guest experience.
- What a restaurant comment card is
- Why traditional restaurant comment cards are problematic
- How to reimagine feedback collection with digital comment cards
What is a restaurant comment card?
A restaurant comment card is typically a postcard-sized card restaurant’s place inside a check holder that invites guests to share feedback about their dining experience. A feedback card for restaurants can ask specific questions (e.g., “what did you think of the service?” or “what can we improve upon?”) or be open-ended and request general feedback (e.g., “let us know what you thought about our restaurant”).
Comment cards are intended to help restaurants improve the customer experience, and keep guests coming back. Because restaurant comment cards can be anonymous, guests feel empowered to share honest insights on them that they may be too shy to tell a server or manager.
In order for comment cards to truly be effective, restaurant owners and operators need to carefully review them and apply the feedback they receive to improve their menu, service and ambiance.
Why restaurant comment cards are problematic
Traditional feedback cards for restaurants are problematic for several reasons.
First, diners rarely fill them out. They’re easy for customers to overlook while sorting out the check. And, customer comment cards can’t be used to collect feedback about takeout orders — a revenue stream that has become increasingly important for restaurants due to pandemic-related dine-in restrictions.
Second, if someone does leave feedback, it’s usually because they’ve had a terrible experience. According to Inc., only one in 10 happy customers will let you know what they think. While negative feedback tends to be more constructive than positive feedback, receiving mostly negative feedback can give you an inaccurate representation of what guests think. Comment cards tend to do a poor job eliciting responses from customers whose sentiment falls between these two extremes.
Third, processing feedback cards for restaurants can be time-consuming. Because restaurateurs are so focused on the day-to-day operations of their business, it can be difficult to prioritize reading comment cards, recording feedback and responding to customers appropriately. And when you finally have time to address the customer feedback, it may be too late to recover an angry customer.
Finally, restaurant comment cards don’t help you collect data about your customers. Most of the time, guests fill out these cards anonymously. That means that if a guest has a complaint and you want to make things right, you won’t be able to get in touch.
Guest feedback surveys: The digital comment cards you need to start using ASAP
So what’s the solution to this broken system? Digital guest feedback surveys.
These surveys are automatically emailed to customers after they dine at your restaurant or place a takeout order. You can customize them to be as simple or as detailed as you’d like.
With software like SevenRooms, you can digitize your comment cards and receive more customer input, automate response collection and gather data about guests. Here’s a closer look at the benefits of replacing restaurant comment cards with digital feedback surveys.
It’s more convenient for diners to respond to digital surveys than it is for them to fill out restaurant comment cards, which means surveys result in more responses.
Guest feedback collection software sends your customers email surveys after every online order or dine-in experience. The survey can be as simple as asking customers to rate their dining experience with anything from one to five stars.
If a customer engages with the survey by answering this question, they’ll then be taken to a more detailed survey in which they can provide open-ended details or rate specific aspects of their experience, like the quality of the food, service and ambiance.
But wouldn’t receiving more feedback make it difficult to review all of the feedback? Feedback collection software simplifies the review process by sending you a daily email summary of customer satisfaction. It also helps you keep an eye on trends with a dashboard that aggregates direct feedback AND guest sentiment from review websites.
Digital surveys are a low-friction alternative to physical feedback cards for restaurants for gathering customers’ opinions.
With customer comment cards, you can’t immediately remedy a negative situation or thank a guest for their laudatory comments. Digital surveys, however, let you send guests customizable, automated responses based on their sentiment.
For example, you can configure SevenRooms to send customers who give your restaurant a four- or five-star rating a templated response that thanks them for visiting and for taking the time to leave their feedback. Guests who gave positive feedback will be pleased that you acknowledged their opinion.
And customers who give your restaurant a bad rating can receive an automated response that apologizes for the less-than-stellar experience and lets them know that someone from your team may reach out to follow up. This automated response helps upset customers feel heard while buying you time before you reach out to smooth over the situation.
Automated responses to guest feedback surveys can help you nurture customer relationships and recover guests who had poor experiences.
Access to customer data
Unlike restaurant comment cards, which can remain anonymous, digital feedback survey results are tied to guest profiles in your customer relationship management (CRM) software, so you always know who thought what about their meal. This integration means you can easily use that information to enhance both the overall dining experience and the experience of a specific guest.
For example, if a guest leaves a raving comment in a survey, you can treat them to a complimentary item on their next visit. By adding this freebie as a tag on their guest profile, your entire team will know about the offer and be able to ensure that the guest is taken care of.
You can also use feedback to easily spot trends in feedback and apply changes. For example, if many guests complain that your air conditioning is too strong, you can turn it down a notch and create a more comfortable experience for everyone. Or if one particular dish is coming out too salty, you have the feedback to make changes in the kitchen to make the dish more palatable.
Say goodbye to restaurant comment cards
While comment cards may have been the only way to collect feedback from guests en masse for a long time, they’re no longer the best way to find out what diners think. Say goodbye to paper comment cards and hello to digital comment cards – also known as guest feedback surveys.
Request a demo of SevenRooms today to get one step closer to automating feedback collection, linking feedback to guest profiles and more.