What Can Restaurant Managers Glean from Customer Feedback

All restaurant managers understand customer feedback is important. There are more than 184 million reviews on Yelp, with restaurants making up the biggest industry people want to talk about. Aside from Yelp, people love leaving feedback on Google, through comment cards, on surveys, and by Facebook recommendations. There is feedback everywhere – but what are you supposed to do with it?

Here are the takeaways restaurant managers can glean from the feedback that customers leave, and how they can turn that feedback into actionable items for improvement.

Learn Which Menu Items Are Most Popular

Feedback can help restaurant owners learn how to stock their kitchens to serve popular menu items more effectively. Whether your restaurant has a lengthy menu or just a few options, your customers likely have a handful of favorites that they turn to time and again.

If you’re not using your customer feedback to improve your menu, operations, customer experience, then you might as well not collect it at all.

With customer feedback in partnership with your inventory management software, you can discover your most popular, and unpopular, menu items – which can help you make strategic business decisions such as stock management, sales promotions, and menu modifications.

Don’t underestimate the power of a curated menu. You can cut costs with a smaller menu and use your savings to create seasonal specials that loyal customers are more apt to try.  

Google recently announced a new feature to its Lens project which will make it easier to read and review restaurant feedback. Using your smartphone, you can look at a paper menu and “click” on certain items to read their reviews. Your customers will be able to see what your cheeseburger looks like through curated photo uploads and determine whether or not to order it.

With features like Lens, there will be more feedback flowing from your customers than ever. It’s up to your brand to listen and make adjustments based on what your customers have to say.

Reward Top Staff Members for Their Hard Work

Some restaurants collect customer feedback to see which employees made the best impression on customers. They have competitions (with financial rewards) to see which staff members are mentioned in a positive light and how many surveys a staff member can collect. This incentivizes staff members to offer high-quality service that motivates customers to leave feedback.


Over time, you are likely to recognize a pattern with your staff members. You can see who goes the extra mile and leads the team. Alternatively, you can also see who fails to make a positive impression which can help you make critical human resources decisions.

Collect New Ideas to Improve Your Restaurant

If you have vocal customers, then your feedback might be the next best way to come up with new ideas for improvement. Ask your customers what you can do to create a better experience or what they wish your restaurant offered but doesn’t.

By the way, if you do pick up an idea that a customer suggested, thank them for their feedback! Promote your new option or menu item to your diners and explain that it came from customer feedback. This motivates your diners to leave feedback on their own because they know that their ideas will be heard – which also increases their loyalty.   

Find Out How Your Restaurant Compares

You might think that you are offering the best customer experience in town, but your fellow diners may believe otherwise. Use your customer feedback to determine how your restaurant stacks up in cleanliness, friendly staff, portions, and food quality. You may discover that something you think you are handling well (like clean bathrooms) actually needs improvement.


You can also learn about your competitors from online customer feedback. Look at what your competitors have in their reviews that you don’t have. You could use their customer feedback to discover the edge they have on you.  

Turn Qualitative Insights into Quantitative Data

As you start to review your customer feedback, whether you are collecting it through diner surveys or online reviews, you should organize that data into a central source for analysis. There are several data management tools that curate information and allow you to upload it from multiple sources. These management resources are often CRMs or software solutions that are easy, intuitive, and affordable – built specifically with the small business owner in mind.

Use your software tools to look at the overarching themes in your customer feedback. Find common threads that point to problems within your business. If you can fix these problems, you can have a significant positive impact on your restaurant.

More data is created every day than we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes before. As a restaurant owner, you have the power to collect feedback from reviews, surveys, social media and more. However, it doesn’t matter how you collect the data as much as what you do with it. If you’re not using your customer feedback to improve your menu, operations, customer experience, then you might as well not collect it at all.