One of the best ways for restaurateurs to improve their business is to listen to their customers and take their opinions on board, whether they are positive or negative, constructive or just a plain rant. If restaurant owners are actively engaging with their customers and their opinions, it will help to consolidate your reputation as a restaurant that cares about its guests, and continuously looks for ways to improve their products and services.

In our modern digital world, customer comments have never been easier to get a hold of. Social media, website comment forms and emails have made it easy for customers to get their point across, and it is the responsibility of the restaurant owners and management to ensure that all of these channels are manned daily so that no feedback slips through the net and isn’t responded to or dealt with as promptly as possible.

Although it isn’t as fashionable as Twitter or Facebook, customer comment cards are still the best and most immediate way of getting instant customer feedback in relation to your restaurant operation. They allow for customers to get their annoyances, praises or issues off their chest in the moment, and offer a more personal and direct (not to mention less public) way of getting a point across than on social media.

The Benefits of Having Customer Comment Cards

Restaurants strive to have repeat business through their doors, and it is a great deal easier to market your business to loyal customers than it is to find new ones. With that in mind, customer comment cards are a superb way of gaining contact information from your customers, so that you can not only take their comments on board and go out of your way to please them by dealing with any issues they might have, but you can use their details to notify them of any future events, special offers or available discounts. If there is an incentive to giving feedback – even if it is simply a bit of praise for your meal or server – customers are more likely to take the extra 60 seconds out of their day to fill out a comment card.

Having customer comment cards available to your customers allows customers to get their feelings down on paper immediately, and lowers the risk of bad word of mouth spreading to the customer’s friends, family or work colleagues. It can be an emotional experience to get our ill feelings down on paper, but it is also quite cathartic, which means that the events that happened on that occasion are likely to remain in your four walls. It is then the restaurant management’s duty to deal with the problem ASAP.

Using Comment Cards to Improve Your Business

If you have a comment card box, it should be emptied at the end of every shift, and no comments – good or bad – should be left unanswered for more than 24 hours. Urgency is essential in customer service, and complaints should always be dealt with over the phone, or in person. If you are taking care of your comment cards as they come in, you are already taking steps to improving your business. After all, good business and customer service go hand in hand.

You can also improve your restaurant operation using comment cards by recording the feedback and looking for any patterns that emerge. For example, if you are receiving comments about the slow service, it could be time to consider more staff training, taking on new and more experienced servers, or updating your POS (Point of Sale) systems so that your servers can process orders more quickly.

The same can be said of any comments about the food and/or the menus on offer. If comments such as “not enough choice” or “menu is confusing” are happening on a regular basis, it could be time to consider getting your kitchen management together and taking a look at the menus together, to see if there are any changes you can make to improve on what the customers are saying about you.

If you are actively seeking your customer’s opinions and feedback, you have to be prepared to grow a thick skin and take criticism on the chin. It is never personal, and the overwhelming majority of customers will want you to succeed, so allow yourself a few moments to let the feedback sink in and then take action immediately. Your customers will love you for it, and your business will continue to evolve and improve as a direct result.