Social media has opened up innumerable avenues for customers to provide positive and negative feedback for restaurants – everything from Facebook to Twitter to Yelp and Amazon. Combine that with the customer surveys you conduct and the information you collect by tracking wait times and satisfaction rates and pretty quickly even the smallest of mom-and-pop outfits are faced with making sense of numerous spreadsheets full of data. Not understanding how to handle the torrents of information about the good and bad of your restaurant’s food, service and ambiance is a missed opportunity to cement relationships with customers and boost revenue.
And it’s not just a matter of comprehending what all of this data means. Ultimately, the goal is to harness the insights and information you collect in order to take the sort of action that will improve your operations and your revenue. After all, you aren’t collecting and analyzing data just for the fun of it.
What makes data actionable?
For such a short, simple-seeming word, data can have a surprising number of meanings. Though undeniably different, everything from reviews on Yelp to sales figures to survey findings all fall under the Big Data tent. Yet raw data is of little importance to business owners interested in tapping information to improve what they do.
What makes data actionable simply comes down to what can be done with it. For data to be actionable, it must be classified and analyzed. To help understand how to determine what is usable data, we’ve developed a three-point checklist:
- Data must be measurable: Think that a Facebook post or a Tweet is a fleeting opinion that can’t be measured? Think again. Taken together, guest comments provide a valuable measure of overall satisfaction. You just need to be sure to measure the data against the goal of improving guest satisfaction.
- Data should establish a benchmark: It can be scary to open yourself up to the sort of inevitable criticism — especially when it comes via social media — that comes from inviting feedback. But whether the first batch of comments or tracking reports comes back especially positive or negative, don’t respond too quickly. The real point of any inaugural data collection and analysis is to determine a benchmark from which to measure future findings.
- Data should establish a standard: At the risk of bringing back nightmares from high school math class, you’ll need to settle on a way to process the data you collect so as to determine average and expected results. There are three ways to do it: by calculating a mean, a median or the mode. A mean comes by adding up all your numbers and then dividing by the number of numbers. The median is just the middle value in a list of numbers and the mode is the value that occurs most. Not surprisingly, each of these approaches yields different results and each has its own strengths. For instance, the median can be the best measure of what’s typical in case there is an extreme number or opinion that differs from the other results while the mode is an easy way to observe frequency.
Whether you have embraced it yet or not, it’s going to get increasingly difficult to ignore the mountains of data that relate to our business. So why not use it to make your restaurant and your customers happier?
Learn More About Collecting and Applying Data to Improve Service
Complete the form below to download Using Data to Transform Fast Casual. This free eBook explains how operational analytics can be collected and dissected to improve service.
Michelle Strong is chief marketing officer at LRS and an advocate for meaningful customer engagement.