Bringing technology to the table a fresh way to engage customers

June 12, 2013 Ronda Mobile Apps

Last week, my colleagues and I stopped at a restaurant on a business trip. At the end of the meal, in addition to the check, we were brought an iPhone attached to a small cutting board. I didn’t order the “iPhone a la mode,” so I was curious.

The waitress quickly explained that the restaurant would appreciate our completing a quick survey to rate the visit. Since I was the opinionated one at the table, the task fell to me to either take or reject the curious-looking device. As I answered the 5 or 6 questions on the survey, I noticed a few things. First, people at my table and the server, who was our cashier, were waiting on me. Then, due to the small size of the iPhone screen, I had to concentrate to see the words. Most importantly, though, I noticed that the survey made me really assess my visit.

I like the idea of getting customer feedback on the spot while the experience is fresh in their minds. Handy technology can make getting that input a simple and unique experience. If you choose to integrate this practice into your business, here are some tips:

  • Find the right time. At what point in the visit should you ask your customer to complete a survey?  It does need to be near the end of the visit so the entire experience can be assessed. However, give your customer enough time to take the survey without feeling rushed or bothered.
  • Keep it short and simple. Consider what you really want to learn from your customers. You can get valuable input if you ask the right questions, so zero in on the top 3-5 questions you want answered. Make the questions short so customers aren’t being asked to give you more than 1 minute of their time to complete the survey.
  • Be strategic. To generate your questions, think about what’s going on in your particular business. Maybe you want to put some new things on the menu but want input before making the change. What specifically will help you in the day-to-day operation of your business and to improve the overall customer experience?
  • Consider the device. Getting creative with the presentation of the survey is a good way to get customers involved. In my opinion, an iPhone on a cutting board was a unique twist. It fit the restaurant atmosphere. But because of the size of the screen, an iPad would have been better. Any device you use in a setting with food and beverage needs to be clean and protected. Another consideration is safeguarding against theft of the device.
  • Choose an app that gives you the analytics you want from the surveys you collect. There are many free and low-cost survey apps available. FluidSurveys offers a free app that will let you generate a survey with up to 20 questions and up to 150 responses per survey. Survey Monkey offers a free account for surveys with up to 10 questions and up to 100 responses per survey. If you want to gather more responses or want more features, upgrades are available to allow greater information generation. Each survey app gathers information from responses and allows you to generate reports to understand the data your customers give.
  • Consider the survey itself. Is the font large enough for just about any customer to read without dragging out her reading glasses? Is the survey cluttered, or is there just one question per screen page? Look at the physical experience of taking the survey. Complete the survey yourself and ask staff to take it before you roll it out to your customers.
  • Offer something extra for their time. I took the time to complete a survey which kept me in my chair a bit longer, so when I finished the survey my reaction was  “What’s in it for me?” It would have been nice for the server to offer our table coupons for future visits or some other token of appreciation.

Restaurants aren’t the only businesses that can integrate on-site customer surveys. Some small businesses are using mobile devices as their cash registers. If you already have your tablet out to process a customer’s payment, why not ask him to complete a brief survey? In a retail setting, if your customers will be idle for at least 30 seconds near the end of their visit, hand them your mobile device and ask for their feedback.

Of course, there are other ways to gather customer input. Websites like Yelp exist for customers to give and read online reviews of your business. If you don’t want to invest in technology at the table, encourage your visitors to leave an online review on Yelp or check in on Facebook. To encourage guests to review your business while they are still on the premises, consider posting signs or putting out table tents. You can even feature QR codes that link to a particular review site or your Facebook Business Page. Reward customers who use their mobile devices to review or check in while they are there.

Today’s consumers are technologically savvy and most will offer their opinion if you ask, especially if you offer an incentive. Rather than guessing at what your customers think, ask them!

The ASBTDC offers a number of seminars to help your business make the most of technology. Investing a little time to learn how to stay ahead of the game can help you bring in new customers and keep your existing customers coming back.


About Ronda Hawkins

Ronda Hawkins, training coordinator for the ASBTDC at Arkansas Tech University, has experience in sales, business administration, business management, business education, and small business ownership.

apps, iPad, iPhone, mobile technology, small business,

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