In the News

Wrangling Customer Opinion

by Mary Avant

June 8, 2011

Source: Rmgt

There are reviews on Citysearch, Yelp, and OpenTable. There are mentions on Facebook and Twitter. There are even comments on blogs and community threads.

So how is a restaurant supposed to keep up with all of this customer feedback floating around the Internet waters?
Enter newBrandAnalytics, whose Social Guest Satisfaction Solution wades through all of the feedback data on the Web, bundles it, and delivers it to restaurants, all in a structured and easy-to-understand package.

“It creates a mountain of primary customer feedback—unsolicited customer feedback—that can be used to measure performance and understand efficacy of business operations,” says Ashish Gambhir, co-founder and EVP of newBrandAnalytics. “The idea is really to turn the Internet—to turn all this guest feedback on the Web—into a real-time survey for our customers without them having to ask any questions.”

With clients like P.F. Chang’s, Qdoba, and Smashburger spanning all the way from Minneapolis to Atlanta, newBrandAnalytics' solution helps restaurant owners, operators, and managers get back in touch with the daily operations at the unit, regional, and national levels.

“It helps you to identify any trend versus just having to read every single one of them and hope that you identify that trend yourself,” says Robby Kukler, partner at Fifth Group Restaurants, an Atlanta-based company that owns five restaurants in the area. “It also gives measuring sticks—scorecards in a sense—to management teams to look at and to see how they’re doing in particular areas.”

Gambhir says that clients can decide which areas they want to focus on, and the tool will then “weight feedback accordingly by each category so that the metrics extracted from the data are exactly how [they] like to run [their] business.”

Fifth Group restaurants focus on target areas like food quality, menu design, hospitality, and cleanliness. However, the company also keeps an eye out for criticism on more uncommon elements.

Using the Social Guest Satisfaction Solution, Kukler discovered that one of his restaurants, Southern City Kitchen Vinings, was getting reports of uncomfortable noise levels in a particular section of the store. After digging deeper into the situation, the restaurant determined that its sound system was working improperly. Kukler quickly fixed the problem and guest complaints ceased.

“We’re essentially answering the question, ‘How are we doing?’ But instead of using some of those traditional methods, like revenue and guest count,” Gambhir says, “we can point exactly to the fact that business has improved in the last two weeks because John, as a server, has been mentioned frequently and every time he’s been mentioned, a customer says that they’re going to come back.”

This kind of personalized guest feedback can help motivate staff to “go the extra mile” to get favorable comments from diners, Gambhir says.

“All of a sudden, as a waiter or waitress, my boss is now reading all this feedback that’s out there on the Web and paying attention to it,” he says, “and basically every transaction that I’m a part of as a waiter has a potential to go on the Web.”

And since more customers—now more than ever before—can read and post positive and negative opinions online, it’s becoming increasingly important to monitor what the guest is saying.

The newBrandAnalytics solution “creates a management tool for an operator to know what is being said, because a lot of people don’t voice their opinions” directly to the restaurant owner or operator, Kukler says.

“This gives us a place to hear those opinions and hopefully try to reconcile them.”

By Mary Avant