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Thanks to Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Facebook and Twitter, too many restaurant managers today are finding out about negative guest experiences as they are broadcast to the rest of the online world. Digital survey solutions give customers an easy way to offer feedback (and receive offers) before leaving the table. Managers also can be immediately notified of negative responses via text alerts, giving them the chance to rectify a situation before the guest leaves. Management also gets early insights into systematic problems with operations or specific staff members, allowing issues to be addressed early and accurately. 

Furthermore, guests are 10 times more likely to fill out a digital survey on site than they are a traditional print or online survey. Tucanos Brazilian Grill, with eight locations across the country, reports that its digital survey solution has a whopping 80-percent response rate. Surveys can be yet another opportunity to build your customer database as well by offering a digital reward (i.e. discount) to be emailed to the guest as a thank you for completing the survey.

The Value of Data and Automation

In today’s world, you’re only as smart as your data. Technology that helps manage guest flow, seating configurations, service delivery times and inventory give restaurateurs the information to make smart reforms. Some systems using GPS-like technology are helping fast-casual establishments improve efficiency both short and long term by providing real-time information:

• Where is the guest sitting? (No more wasted time looking for the table tent number.)

• How long has the guest been waiting for food delivery? (Which order should the kitchen/expediter prioritize?)

• What tables are the most in-demand? (Does the restaurant need more four-tops and fewer two-tops?)

Quick-service restaurants have been on the forefront of automating inventory tracking, something that is likely to expand to food service at large. By integrating data points (i.e. what a guest ordered with his survey satisfaction score), restaurants will be able to see in real time how their menu items are performing and make adjustments as needed.

The restaurant of the future truly revolves around the guest experience. For the first time, owners and managers will have the tools they need to both understand and cater to the guest’s every need. 

Skip Cass is chief executive officer of Long Range Systems (LRS), a leading global provider of on-site paging, guest management and marketing research/surveying tools. LRS owns over 20 patents and markets over 30 hardware and software solutions designed to enhance customer service, retention and acquisition-based efforts.