Connecting With Your Guests Part 1 of 3

Tips for driving survey count

From the US Beef Compass:

We treat our employees like we treat our guests, and we treat our guests like our job depends on creating an outstanding dining experience.

The US Beef definition of Respect 

Exceed our guests' expectations with excellent food, service, and hospitality in clean, well-maintained restaurants. 

 This is one of our strategic anchors

Why am I writing about this?  You all are Prime Choice, right?! 

You all should be setting the bar for hospitality and exceeding our guests' expectations.  While I have no doubt, that you all deliver a consistent guest experience that is better than average across US Beef, many of you have goals pertaining to driving your Brand Purpose Score.  And even if you don't necessarily have that goal, many of you have expressed that your peer restaurant could use a little "help" in that department. 

Regardless, hospitality and the guest experience is an area in which we should always strive for improvement. 

So with that in mind, I am writing 3 blog posts over the next few weeks that focus on ways to improve the hospitality in your restaurant which in turn should provide a boost to your Brand Purpose Score or BPS. 

For the purpose of this post, I am going to assume that you and your team execute the basics extremely well.  Things like order accuracy, product quality, food temperature and basic manners are just some of the essential ingredients in the recipe for an outstanding experience.  If you can't hit the target on these things, then the rest of this post will not produce results for you. Only when you have become brilliant at the basics can you truly drive your BPS.

Everyone is Sick of Completing Surveys

Sweet Bo...super motivational.  I'll make it worse...most guests also aren't even listening when we ask them to complete a survey.  They are on auto-pilot...immune. 

Now, don't go telling your team not to suggest surveys any longer because that's not necessarily what I'm saying.   What I am telling you is that the odds are stacked against us.  When was the last time you completed a survey for a competitor?  I would bet there is a large % of you that have NEVER done it. 

In order to get me to complete a survey, I need to be motivated.  And, I'm not talking about a chance to win $10,000, a trip to Hawaii, or a new Harley.  It needs to be much more than that....

The only way you are going to get me to fill out a survey right now is if I feel like I am doing it to benefit or impact someone else.  The last time I completed a survey was for a General Manager of a La Quinta in Little Rock.  Kari and I were rolling out Compass and Brand Ranch and we used the hotel meeting space for the training session.  This GM was good at what she did.  She checked on us frequently to make sure we had everything we needed, she thanked us for choosing her hotel, and when it came time for us to leave...she made her plea.  She wanted feedback. 

She could have said, "Please go to this website and let us know how we did!"  Even though I had a really good experience, I'm not sure I would have taken the time to fill out a survey.   But what she did next made all the difference in the world.  Here's what happened...

She gave me her card (nothing too surprising there) and one last time told me how much she appreciated the business.  A final time she made sure everything was satisfactory with the hotel and meeting venue, and I told her it was.  Then she said this, "If you would not mind going to TripAdvisor and leaving us a review I would be so grateful.  See, we are a newer hotel, under new ownership and the La Quinta brand has not been the greatest in this area, so we are really trying to get the word out that there is a new LQ in town that will change your mind about the brand!  Because you stayed here AND held a meeting, your review will be extremely valuable."

I could tell that this young lady was passionate about improving her business, driving sales and satisfying her guests.  That is what we should aspire to do every single day.  

Make Connections, Drive Results

  I am sure you have heard that the more surveys you get, the better your scores will be.  This makes no logical sense.  If a restaurant has consistently crappy operations day in and day out, getting more people to tell us about their visit should actually negatively impact the BPS.  Here is some truth:

The more surveys you get,

the more accurate the data will be

More surveys = more data, which means there is less of a chance that our numbers will be skewed by a few outliers or by those solely using the survey as a guest complaint hotline.  So driving survey count is about improving the quality of your data...not about improving the guest experience...only you and your team can do that.

So if you want to get more of your guests providing feedback, follow these 3 tips:

  1. Continue to suggest surveys at the close of each transaction- "But Bo!!!  You said.."...I said, "MOST" guests aren't listening when we suggest a survey, not ALL.  We increase our chances by mixing up our prompt.  Challenge your cashiers to come up with 5 different ways to point out the survey on the receipt and make sure they rotate with each guest.  Let them get a little creative...after all the goal here is to make this sentence get their attention.
  2. Take the time to introduce yourself to your lobby guests-  Make sure they know your name and that they are dining in YOUR restaurant.  If you want want to really drive survey count and eventually your BPS, then the guest must like providing a warm and sincere intro is critical to establishing that relationship. 
  3. When asking a guest to complete a survey during a "table touch" make sure they know that by doing so they are serving a greater purpose- If you execute the basics, but then only complete steps 1 and 2 mentioned above, then you are still not maximizing your chances at driving survey volume.  After you have introduced yourself to the guest you should let them know how much you appreciate their business and remind them about the survey.


This next point could make or break your intended end result:

Tell the guest what you intend to do with their feedback.  Do you intend to use the information to coach and train, praise and recognize, identify negative trends and offer corrective action?  It matters! 

Here is how a completely idealistic conversation may play out between you and a guest:

You approach a table of guests that are finished eating and break the ice by asking if you can clear their trays for them.

You:  Hi there!  May I get this out of the way for you?

Guest: Sure!  Thanks!

You:  Happy to help!  I don't believe (OR I believe) I've seen you in here before, but my name is _____ and I am the General Manager here.

Guest:  I'm _______.  Nice to meet you.

You:  Very nice to meet you!  We are really working hard here on creating a better experience for our guests and we would love to get your feedback by calling that number or visiting the website on your receipt.  And we actually use the feedback to train our team and provide recognition for our employees!  It takes less than 5 minutes and you can do it right from your smart phone.

Guest:  OK thanks!

OK, so this may be a little too perfect, but you get the idea.  The above example is meant to provide a simple framework, but it is important that you make it your own.  If your request does not feel genuine, the guest will pick up on it and that could impact your success rate. 

Stop focusing on driving your survey counts and start focusing on creating real connections with your guests.  When you go beyond just asking your guest for feedback and draw their attention to the impact they can make on your business and your employees, you are taking that extra step toward creating an outstanding dining experience.   Whether that step seems tiny or enormous to you, what's important is that you put one foot in front of the other and TAKE THE STEP.  

Be Proud, Be Humble, Be Helpful, Always Represent 


This is part 1 of a 3 part series discussing the guest experience and BPS.  Part 2 will focus on “5 Questions You Should Ask Your Guests” if you want to improve your business. 

Let me know what you think of the article below.  You can also use the comment box below to share your stories as you begin to make this part of your daily routine.