Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The Old Way:
Before social media, restaurants depended on customers to fill out surveys to gauge customer satisfaction.
Surveys were inefficient because customers would:
- lie on the surveys to be polite, because they knew that the cute waiter/waitress would read it afterwards
- OR not fill them out at all.
The paper method of gauging customer satisfaction is flawed from the beginning.
Then Yelp came along, but:
- only a small percentage of customers use Yelp.
- the reviews on Yelp can have the tendency to be really good or really bad. Customers have to feel one way or another to pitch in their two cents.
- there is no real incentive to use the website. No rewards, no social-networking integration.
The New Way:
- help customers find different restaurants instead of just their usual hang outs. It’s great for new businesses!
- provide an automatic loyalty system. It trims the paper even more by eliminating the need to stamp cards towards discounts or free drinks. (I always forget or misplace my loyalty cards.)
- give customers an increased sense of exclusivity, just for visiting a restaurant multiple times.
- create a competitive game between customers. Which customer will be the “most loyal” and will be treated the best this week?
- provide restaurant owners a wealth of information about their customers with very little time, energy, and monetary investment.
- provide the perfect amount of emotional distance from restaurants since they are:
- part of a customer’s personal, social network.
- impersonal, just enough, to provide a completely honest opinion of a restaurant’s service (in a similar way to how we feel more comfortable yelling at other drivers on the road, but not in a face-to-face situation).
These LBS (location-based services) don’t mean that Twitter is useless. They just take the weight off of Twitter as the main online-marketing tool. Many restaurants use Twitter to communicate with their customers on a more personal level, and tweets have made an impact on the food-service industry.
One of the best, and most renown use of Twitter by a restaurant occurred last year:
P.F. Changs saw a tweet about how much a woman was enjoying their chicken lettuce wraps. P.F. Changs tracked down the woman to the branch she was dining at, paid for her meal, and gave her free dessert.
The story has been circulated widely throughout the Internet and has been discussed on multiple websites and forums—all for under $20. (Chicken Lettuce Wraps: $6.50 + Average Dessert: $5.95 = $12.45 plus tax)*
Other businesses spend thousands to get the same type of attention.
Needless to say, P.F. Changs improved its service, gained some fantastic PR, and improved its value to its customers…all which add up to a bigger bottom line.
The Cynch: Paper is out, apps are in. Social-media services improve communication by breaking down formalities. Informal settings are key to listening in, providing great customer service, and improving business as a whole.
So next time you’re at a restaurant and the waiter slips a survey in with the check, just write “I Foursquared it.”
*For more case studies on how restaurants are using social media, check out Twitter09.