How to Solicit Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is an essential part to marketing your bar, and listening to your patrons should be at the top of your list, when running your business.  So why is it so important?

Why You Should Listen
customer feedback

Customer feedback helps drive a purpose behind the service you are offering.  There are a variety of ways to retain your customers.  The following are some simple reasons why listening to their thoughts is so important:

  • Increase Customer Satisfaction: Studies from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Chamber of Commerce show that on average, 70% of dissatisfied customers never return.  Listening to customers is considered one of the 9 customer retention strategies proven to increase customer satisfaction.
  • Identify “At Risk” Patrons: By gathering customer feedback, you can determine those people that are not 100% happy.  You can take this information as constructive criticism on what to change, and even use it as an opportunity to offer a complimentary drink or dish.  These customers will be honest with you, and give you insight on any reoccurring problems you may need to address.
  • Create Advocates: Or as we call them in the industry, “regulars.”  The more you consider customer feedback, the sooner you can identify your truly committed patrons, and create advocates.  Imagine a world where 100% of new business came from referrals?  Make people your cheerleaders.

Every bar owner reaches out to their customers in different ways.  This can depend on factors like environment, customer behavior, and how you run your business in general.  For instance, some business owners with heavy traffic, might gather feedback easier through in-house feedback forms, while another bar owner may choose the online route.  The following are a few ways to collect customer feedback, that people have found success with:

customer service
There are several ways these days to collect feedback through surveys.  The site SurveyMonkey allows you to create a link to a short questionnaire, which can then be sent out through various social media channels.

You can also display a survey right on your business site.  The feedback from this method is likely to be a little more pointed, because people are seeking out the survey themselves, rather than simply receiving a link.  Keep it short to one or two relevant questions.

When creating a survey for customer feedback, always remember the following things:

  • Only ask essential questions.  People have short attention spans, and superfluous questions will prompt some to rush.
  • Keep it short and sweet.  No one is taking a 15 minute survey.  Stick to 5 questions at most.
  • Ask questions that require actual feedback.  Don’t include multiple choice or rating scales.  Ask open-ended questions to get the most useful feedback.

Feedback Forms
Some bar or restaurant owners choose to have a hardcopy form located somewhere within the establishment, like the hostess stand, behind the bar, or even on the receipt itself.  This is a more human approach to receiving feedback, and many business owners prefer this method.   Often when a staff member is handing over that form, the lasting impression is that you care about what they think.

There are some guidelines you should consider, when creating these forms, to get the best results:

  • Use a rating scale.  Unlike a survey, you can use this system to track changes in satisfaction over certain periods, or quarters.
  • Keep it short, and under 10 questions, with a maximum of 2-3 open-ended questions. 
  • Tell the customer why you want the feedback in the first place.  It can even be as easy as “We want to make your time here as enjoyable as possible….etc”
  • Brand your form, so if they take it home, they can remember you.
  • Ask for personal details like name and number, and always follow up with strong reviews.
  • Ask if you can use their opinions in any marketing.

First Person
For the bravest of bar owners, in person or phone contact is their preferred form of customer feedback.  Simply asking the person about their experience yields much higher response rates, and shows the customers you genuinely care.  However, it can be the most costly.  Especially if you are blindly reaching out in telephone surveys.


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