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Like so many elements of the restaurant experience, how operators collect and analyze feedback has evolved over the years.

Three secrets to leveraging customer feedback to drive operational improvement

As technology evolves and continues to play a larger role in the restaurant world, customer feedback is becoming more useful than ever.

It’s an operator’s job to drive revenue by creating the ultimate customer experience, and the best way to do so is listening to the customers themselves. However, like so many elements of the restaurant experience, how operators collect and analyze feedback has evolved over the years.

Traditionally, a mix of scanning social media mentions and secret shoppers were the common practices adopted by restaurants. But as technology evolves and continues to play a larger role in the restaurant world, what if these legacy methods of understanding customer feedback were actually turning you away from real opportunities to drive revenue?

So what’s the most effective way to gather and synthesize feedback, and translate it into actions? The good news is, there are platforms out there — like Tattle’s Customer Experience Improvement (CXI) technology — that can do 95% of the work for you, so you can focus on managing the teams and driving results.

Here are a few insights we’ve gathered over the years by helping hospitality brands of all sizes unlock operational improvements, and, in turn, drive greater satisfaction and higher sales.

1. Collect feedback data beyond broad categories

It’s not uncommon to see short surveys asking for an overall star review, and then leaving a text box for the guest to elaborate. At most, the survey might ask about categories such as “Food,” “Service,” “Ambience,” etc. The problem is, text doesn’t always provide a clear, at-a-glance view of overall customer sentiments, and vague category ratings fail to convey specifically what went wrong with “Food,” “Service,” or “Ambience.” If you receive a low service rating, how would you know if it’s because of the speed of service? The way guests are greeted? The way your staff answers customer questions?

Without factor-level feedback beyond vague category-level ratings, it’s almost impossible to know exactly what to improve on.

That’s why you need to collect more detailed information, such as a causation-based survey to uncover exactly why someone gives the rating they do.

Once aggregated, all these granular data points can paint you a much clearer picture of exactly what went wrong in your customer experience across the board and decide on action plans that can lead to real impact. It’s about the details of “why.” For example, if a pizzeria receives a neutral-sentiment piece of feedback from a guest, and you know that guest ordered a pepperoni pizza, get to the details. With various pizzerias in our client database, we’ve seen that if a guest orders a pepperoni pizza, but not every slice has an even distribution of the pepperoni topping, it drags down the “Order Accuracy” score. It’s not about if pepperoni was put on, but about the topping distribution. That deeper insight can be used by operations to train the staff and elevate the overall guest sentiment.

2. Prioritize areas with high impact on guest satisfaction and revenue

Having the data is only step one. The real challenge is knowing how to prioritize so that you can see the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.

You need to take into consideration areas that have the highest correlation with revenue improvement and understand the urgency and impact-level of each factor using data.

While we deploy Tattle’s AI-powered CXI platform tailored to each brand’s individual restaurant location, we’ve seen general trends across the board (with respect to more than 250 million 2022 consumer feedback points thus far), specifically:

  • When comparing the guest satisfaction across ordering channels (dine-in, takeout and delivery), delivery orders have seen the biggest decline in overall satisfaction since January 2021, dropping from 84% satisfaction down to 74% in March 2022. Dine-in tends to have the highest satisfaction, around 95%, and take-out has seen a slight decrease from 88% to 84% since January 2021.
  • We have seen a steady increase in the amount of feedback submitted by customers about their delivery and takeout experience across all brands on the platform. This trend has extended throughout 2021 and into 2022 to date, which further shows that despite the return of dine-in customers — which has resulted in a 220% increase in dine-in feedback data since the beginning of 2021 — takeout and delivery are here to stay and will continue to be the key sales channels for hospitality brands.

3. Focus on one objective at a time

Now that you’ve taken the leap from data to action, how do you next turn action into results?

While it’s tempting to map out multiple operational areas to focus on immediately, our data reveals that focusing on one simple thing can often turn the ship around. Additionally, operations teams and hourly workers are stretched thinner than ever, with orders being fulfilled in-store, on the website, via third party and more.

We recommend setting one objective at a time for each location each month, so that you can align and focus the team on turning the new action into a habit, before implementing another change. It also enables each restaurant to clearly benchmark and track progress. Whether using a traditional method like a secret shopper, or a more tech-forward CXI, your team will understand what metrics move the needle, and adjust the following month. It’s the understanding of what minutia and seemingly small operational improvements can be significant for guest sentiment, versus taking a larger view similar to “improve the hospitality” or “focus on the food quality.”

While customer feedback can’t translate into results overnight, it’s the best resource you have to achieve long-term sustainable success. If you follow these suggested strategies, especially with the help of a powerful CXI platform that can make your job 10 times easier, this tried and true formula will nearly guarantee steady progress towards higher guest satisfaction and more revenue.


Alex Beltrani is the founder and CEO of Tattle, a Customer Experience Improvement (CXI) platform for restaurant and hospitality operators to collect guest feedback and act on it.

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