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February 28, 2019

Tell Us How You Really Feel: Using Unsolicited Guest Feedback to Become Best-in-Class

Person taking photo of food, leaving unsolicited feedbackWhen restaurant brands want to understand performance, they rely on the experts for the most relevant data and insights. It was exciting to see the weight given to online guest feedback, reviews and ratings at this year’s Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) Global Best Practices Conference.

Restaurant brands spend a lot of money and considerable effort on consumer research, guest surveys and focus groups to understand opinions and behavior around their brand. They commission research because they want to make decisions based on facts. Guests call, email, or write a letter to give feedback, often assuming they might be compensated.

Online reviews from sites like Facebook, Google and Yelp! provide unsolicited and unfiltered feedback that isn’t given in return for compensation. It is what your guests want others to know about their experience: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Using unsolicited feedback from guests of hundreds of restaurant brands, helps operators understand what is contributing to sales or traffic decline at low performing locations. Additionally, learning what is contributing to happy guests at top performing locations helps to clearly identify the gaps.

Guest Feedback Identifies What Separates the Best from the Rest

According to 2018 Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) data, best-in-class restaurant brands (top quartile) had double the intent to return scores of bottom quartile brands. The real differentiator for brands that had high intent to return scores was service. These brands got credit for accuracy, attentiveness, knowledge and experience.

“The best-in-class brands, those winning in the marketplace, service is where they stand out. It is the one sustainable key differentiator. The best of the best and the rest can all have great food and great beverage, but if you don’t have exceptional service you’re not sustaining that advantage.”

Kathleen Koehler

Senior Director of Guest Intelligence (formerly Guest Intelligence (formerly White Box Social Intelligence))™, Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K)

Spread between top quartile and bottom quartile brands on …

  • Sales: 7.2 percentage points
  • Traffic: 6.9 percentage points

It would come as no surprise that these best-in-class brands also have the lowest turnover. Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) continues to connect the dots through data points.

Spread between top quartile and bottom quartile brands on …

  • Management turnover: 14 percentage points
  • Hourly turnover: 14 percentage points

Data Solutions Streamline the Collection Process

Combing through review data can be tedious. Fortunately, Guest Intelligence (formerly Guest Intelligence (formerly White Box Social Intelligence)) streamlines the process by pulling data from Facebook, Yelp!, Google and more. From one dashboard, you can see what guests are saying overall, by region or even by location. You can also keep tabs on a new location, menu rollout, remodel or how a marketing campaign is resonating at the local level. This platform helps identify the differences in what guests are saying between top and bottom performing franchisees.

Based on data from their three main platforms (Workforce Intelligence (formerly People Report), Financial Intelligence (formerly Black Box Intelligence) and Guest Intelligence (formerly Guest Intelligence (formerly White Box Social Intelligence))) Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K) concluded that winning the war for market share is done by exceptional people delivering exceptional service. Do you know how your brand is stacking up?

Jill McFarland is the founder of Stellar Digital Marketing. Stellar Digital helps brands connect with audiences from a brand level, all the way down to a local level. Connect with Jill on LinkedIn.

Free Webinar, July 17th: Q3 State of the Industry Webinar

As we near the midpoint of 2019, tune into this webinar to hear the current state of restaurant industry financial trends, labor challenges and consumer behavior. We’ll tackle all the data and insights you’ll need to know to finish the year strong.

What will be covered?

  • Deep dive on the consumer share of wallet
  • Best vs. the Rest
  • State of the restaurant industry
  • Exclusive insights covering best-in-class performance
  • And more!

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