Many business owners are finding that the old standby of asking customers to fill out paper or online customer surveys just doesn’t cut it anymore. For one thing, the response rate is incredibly low – usually under 10 percent – and in those cases you’re mainly hearing from outliers. The data’s no good.
To get better data, some companies have turned to less-traditional review methods in recent years to reach more people and get a better understanding of how to improve the customer experience.
Secret Shoppers Yield an Unrepresentative Sample
One way to get feedback is to use secret shoppers. Michelle Priola, operations manager at Beau Jo’s restaurant, used secret shoppers in the chain’s eight restaurants but found that the results were more critical than constructive. Her biggest problem was that the reviews weren’t coming from customers but from people who, she felt, were simply looking for every problem they could spot.
“They’re getting paid to be a secret shopper. They’re not going in there with an open mind, they’re hunting for things to criticize,” Priola said. “My managers were getting frustrated hearing them, feeling like they were being picked on. It’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re trying so hard, what can we do that is going to be effective?’”
Once again, the data was no good.
Priola said she was dining at a restaurant in Denver when she was asked to fill out a survey on a digital tablet after her meal. She had seen digital survey solutions at expos before, but actually using one as a customer made her realize it was what she needed at Beau Jo’s.
“We like it because we can tailor it. We like the reports that come out of it and how you can design the reports. We can customize it and put whichever questions we want in the system,” Priola said.
The Value of Accumulated Data
Beau Jo’s has used the LRS Digital Survey Tool for a little more than a year now, and couldn’t be happier with the response from customers. Managers at each location randomly select tables to receive the surveys, and Priola estimated that 99.9 percent of their customers give feedback.
Because the tables are selected randomly, the accumulated result is more likely to be scientifically significant. And that leads to something Priola finds very helpful: The ability to slice and dice the results any way she wants. She can choose to look at responses from all locations or just one. She can also adjust the questions to better fit the needs of each restaurant or use the data management tools to study trends over time. No other survey tool offers such detailed information in such an immediate, organized, customizable platform.
And it’s not just restaurants finding success with tablet surveys. Businesses of all kinds can personalize the surveys to fit their needs: Automotive shops, spas, hotels and even healthcare providers can all benefit from a digital survey’s instantaneous and adaptable nature.
Michelle Strong is chief marketing officer at LRS and an advocate for meaningful customer engagement.