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Understanding Your Restaurant Guests: Going Beyond the Why?

Meeting guest expectations and providing a positive customer experience has never been so paramount.  One of the things I keep hearing from clients, prospects and industry experts is that today’s guests “expect” things to be done quicker and more efficiently.  Do you think that’s true?   Let’s explore:

What Does “Quicker” Really Mean?

We recently conducted a speed of service study for a nationwide QSR chain that was looking to identify the “sweet spot” for speed of service and its impact on their guests’ experience in the drive-thru.  After thorough analysis, resulted showed that not only did we identify the ideal “sweet spot” for speed of service for the highest satisfaction levels, but we also uncovered several other interesting findings:

  1. Really fast service led to apprehension and lower satisfaction scores. Guests who were served too quick indicated that they were less likely to return and/or recommend to others
  2. Specific breakdowns in the drive-thru resulted in a negative impact on speed of service and overall satisfaction
  3. Car stacking impacts guests’ perception of speed of service vs. their actual speed of service time

At the end of the day, the client realized that the assumption of quicker service doesn’t necessarily equal higher customer satisfaction.  However, what they did understand is what “quicker” actually means to their QSR customers.

Are your Standards “Efficient”?

During another recent study, we began working with a client that just rolled out new training and operational performance standards.   Their employee training was going extremely well, was well communicated and their employees were consistently delivering on the metrics.  There was only one problem (and a big one) - they were still losing market share to the competition.  

Although our client was efficiently executing their operational game plan, they failed to identify the various changes in the marketplace, which caused them to lose market share.  After a series of guest experience research projects, we were able to identify one key metric that outlined a specific employee behavior that would immediately impact guest perceptions/experiences and represent the ideal employee interaction.

Initially, the client put together a great game plan consisting of a robust employee training program and new operational standards, but unfortunately, and although their game plan was executed flawlessly, they measured the wrong behaviors. In order to be truly efficient, your strategy must marry both guest expectations and a competitive strategy.

So What Does This All Mean

Guests will always expect things to be done quickly and efficiently; however, what these terms mean varies and are unique to every restaurant concept and experience.  Before you rush out and make brash decisions, go beyond the why and truly understand who your guests are and identify what drives their decisions to frequent your establishment. 

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