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April 9, 2012

Lessons Learned at a Restaurant

At the risk of preaching to the choir, I’m gonna tell this story…

Because you’re in the market research industry, I’m sure you’re doing some sort of client satisfaction study following each project.  Perhaps some combination of quant and qual… maybe with a little Net Promoter Score thrown in for good measure.  Then you track it and trend it over time to make sure you keep getting better.  Great!  Keep it up.

What I have found over the years, however, is that even if you get a decent percentage of your client satisfaction surveys returned, often they don’t include very much “actionable” feedback.  The clients will tell you if they liked or didn’t like your work, maybe give you some vague specifics (e.g. “Our Project Manager wasn’t very responsive.”), but that’s about it.  Not a lot to work with, is there?

Here’s an idea I learned several years ago from, of all places, a restaurant manager.  I’m sure you’ve been out to dinner when, at some point, the manager comes by and asks, “How is everything this evening?”  To which you ubiquitously reply, “Fine.  Thanks.”  Again, not a lot for the restaurant to work with.

But many years ago, a restaurant manager came to our table and asked, “How’s everything this evening?”  To which we gave the standard reply.  Then he said, “If we could improve just one thing that would have made your experience even better tonight, what would that be?” I was stunned!  WHAT AN AWESOME QUESTION!

I loved it for three reasons:

  1. There is always something that can be better.
  2. It forced me to think of something specific.
  3. Because the response was specific, it gives the restaurant an actionable item – something they could actually DO to improve the customer experience.

Simple and effective.  If you’re not using this question in your client satisfaction surveys (or better yet, in your post-project phone calls with your clients), why not start now?  It’s sure to give you a competitive advantage.

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