Data Gathering with Comment Cards

Yes, we love tech. Yes, it’s the future. But you know what hasn’t gone out of style? Good businesses. The cast of Friends didn’t frequent Central Perk for it’s advanced technology, after all, and we’re not sure a mobile ordering app would’ve done more than those cozy couches.

In a time when new apps allow us to continually reinvent ourselves, it’s important not to lose sight of our business’s roots, and what makes it’s employees and patrons a community. When someone walks into your establishment, they want an experience, and very rarely is that desired experience a simulation of a Moon landing, or a flash-forward to the year 2900. Moderation is key in many aspects of business management, and that includes the permeation of technology. Sometimes, the best move is to keep it old school. After all, if basically all of Brooklyn can jive with the cash-only thing, can’t you reserve a classic quirk for your own business? We’ve often discussed digital customer-feedback platforms, but what about gathering data with old school comment cards?

Since it costs on average three times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing customer, it’s no secret that keeping your customers happy is the secret to a successful business. We know all too well from sites like YELP that a customer experience report can make or break an establishment’s reputation, and sometimes eliminating the middleman (and reverting to good ‘ol pen and paper) is the way to get ahead of a negative review, and keep customers satisfied. Think of it--when you’re angry or frustrated, doesn’t it feel great to write about it in a journal, vent to a friend, or scream into a deserted forest?

By providing customers with a comment card towards the end of their meal, they are given the opportunity to air any grievances with you directly--and because they feel like their voice is heard, they are less likely to take the additional time to write a lengthy negative online review or badmouth your establishment to their entire book club. The physical, in-person act of soliciting feedback feels more intimate than being served a sales-y, online survey. The customer is more likely to feel cared-about, catered-to,  and invested in their experience. This act reinforces what you’ve been trying to get across the entire meal--that you and your business cares about the needs and comfort of each patron who enters its doors. This small effort can ensure a lasting relationship and sow the seeds of mutual good feelings and respect.

The comment card itself should contain production value worthy of the restaurant itself, and exude the care put into the diner’s experience (this means, no scrap paper and golf pencils). Principles from digital feedback-sourcing apply here--people still don’t want an open-ended, daunting writing task, so including simple data quantifiers, such as a choice of letters or a numerical score, will allow for clear, efficient feedback. This can be supplemented by direct questions like, “What would you like to see added to our menu?” or “Was there anything in your service that could be improved?” and should individually highlight different aspects of the experience like service, the food itself, and the physical setting.  

Of course, like the reason that many current services have made the switch to digital, the convenience factor is a potential roadblock that contributes to the decline of paper comment cards. In addition to being more sustainable and reducing paper waste, a customer may be more likely to take their time filling out a thoughtful assessment of their dining experience on their own time, from the comfort of their own home. Additionally, data-driven digital feedback software like PLEY maximizes actionable results out of customer comments, turning their assessment into tangible plans for change and user-friendly reporting of what’s working in the business.

Ultimately, we see that back-to-basics stewardship is appealing to consumers, many of whom feel as though they are slowly losing lived experiences to screens, one step at a time. Whether you choose PLEY, or you kick it the old-school way and let PLEY manually input the data for you, there’s no wrong way to show your customers you care what they think.