- Find out when your guests are returning, and how many of them are coming back.
- Learn more about your customers’ needs and how you can best serve them going forward (do they prefer takeout, delivery, or dining in?)
- Share your food safety plan for restaurant proceedings and develop trust with your guests
These are unprecedented times, and it is possible that consumers’ habits have changed permanently, or at least long-term, post-COVID.
We’ll touch on why surveys are so important post-COVID. Let’s talk more about what questions on a post-COVID survey will be most useful to you, how you can distribute the surveys easily, and how to get your customers to respond! We’ll also discuss your food safety plan for restaurant proceedings, including professional cleaning products and an HACCP checklist.
Why Surveys are Pivotal: Touching Base & Reassuring Restaurant Food Safety
Gary Stibel, an analyst at New England Consulting Group, suggests that it will take years before traffic in the public sphere returns to normal. He recommends that restaurant owners keep this fear factor in mind instead of using demographics or marketing strategies.i
What we need to know is how our customer will be changed by the financial stresses and health concerns that have come with COVID-19.
In the survey administered above, consumers answer the question: “Would you dine in a restaurant immediately after it reopened?”
How do our customers feel safest right now? When we know their preferences, we can stock, prep and adapt accordingly, using methods like:
- Contactless delivery options
- Masked and gloved employees
- Clear social distancing markers
- Family deals (78% of consumers are interested in such deals, according to Datassential research firmii)
- New items in-stock (such as a few grocery items to become an affordable one-stop family shop)
- Special offers like promos and coupons
Fortunately, we have some control over how our customers feel about our services and food safety practices.
In our survey, we gain our customers’ trust not only by showing them we care about their opinions and concerns, but also letting them know the about our restaurant food safety. Share information about the professional cleaning products you are using, the hygiene practices you are enforcing and the extra things you are doing to keep your establishment COVID-free.
Your consumers might remember the way you handle these challenging circumstances, and the actions you’re taking today might influence their perception of your business. These days may affect your customers’ loyalty to your business for years to come.
Let’s talk about how to make the best impression possible with our post-COVID survey and food safety practices.
Which Questions to Ask When Sharing your Survey & Restaurant Food Safety Practices
When you are creating your customer survey, here are some of the questions you might want to include, and why you may want to include them.iii
Select just a few questions like these. The shorter your survey, the better, as long as you can get the information you need to help your customers!
What do you need right now?
How can we help you right now?
Many guests are undergoing financial crises and significant stress right now. They will be interested in a mutually beneficial relationship. Let them know you’re willing to go the extra mile to show you care. Some examples you might include could be free delivery, promotions, news alerts, financial information, etc.
How well are we handling COVID complications on a scale of 1-5?
You might be unsure of the public’s general perception of how your business is adapting to the times.
What could we be doing better?
Is there anything we could do to make dining with us a more comfortable experience?
This is where you can get an idea of what you could do to make your customers feel safer.
What are we doing well that we should keep doing?
When you’re opening yourself up to constructive criticism, you will also need to know what you’re doing already that customers love! When you’re making big changes, you don’t want to get rid of practices that are working for you by mistake.
What else is on your mind?
This or any other open-ended question encourages survey-takers to open up more and provide more valuable information about their hopes for the future or restaurant food safety concerns.
Do you feel eating out is too risky right now?
This gauges how your guests are feeling about eating out at your restaurant or any restaurant in general, and helps you get a feel for how many customers to plan on. You may also make this a multiple-choice question with choices like “I prefer food delivery” or “I prefer food pickup over dining in.”
Here are some other topics you might want to mention in your questions:
- Home delivery
- Sanitization concerns
- Professional cleaning products
- Food safety practices
- Staff training
- HACCP checklist
- Quality and taste of your food (and how it will withstand delivery and pickup methods)
These questions and topics are just examples. As long as your questions are straightforward and clear, you can customize them any way you like.
Your customer will appreciate the chance to write their feelings without feeling pressured to answer a particular way. You can build that professional relationship more by catering the survey to fulfill customer needs and enrich their lives.
If the open-ended approach doesn’t seem to be working for you, consider using “yes or no” questions or multiple-choice questions to decrease the abandonment rate.
On another note, we know that customers aren’t the only ones needing support at this time. The hard workers of the foodservice industry deserve the same kind of treatment, and we hope our stress & wellness webinars and resources can make life a little easier for you.
How to Create and Share a Post-COVID Survey with Food Safety Practices
Once you have a plan for your survey questions, here are methods for getting your questions out there:
- SMS surveys: Whenever an order is delivered, send an SMS survey to the customer an hour or so after they have received and enjoyed their food.
- Email surveys: Send emails to your customers with survey links from sites like SurveyMonkey, Google Forms or Typeform. You could also embed the surveys within the email itself!
- QR codes: You can distribute QR codes on delivery boxes or receipts. With the QR code leave a message requesting their suggestions and ideas. The customer can scan the QR code on their smartphone. They will be taken to the survey from there.
- Popup surveys on your website: You can setup a survey on your website so that whenever someone visits, a pop-up window will request the visitor’s feedback.
- Social media platformsv: Try posing a question or two on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, where many people feel they can safely share their thoughts and ideas.iv
Don’t forget to share your restaurant food safety plan along with the survey. You might send it as an email, design it as a separate social media post, or publish an article on your website (or use a combination for best results).
Before You Share
When you feel confident in your food safety practices and HACCP checklist, it will be natural to share reassurances with your deserving guests.
If you’re hoping to improve your restaurant and food safety system efficiency before sending out your customer letter, the HACCP checklist is always a great place to start! The official HACCP checklist can help you identify what potential hazards might be threatening your restaurant, and evolve your current procedures accordingly.
The HACCP checklist can also be a great reference when you look back to see if your newly-implemented procedures are working. It is a concrete way to collect data about the safety and success of your business.
If you need any review on the HACCP checklist before you start the process, this article is to-the-point and very helpful.
Distributing your Food Safety Plan for Restaurant Success
In addition to your survey questions, it can be helpful to share your food safety practices with your customers. Some of the topics you might want to cover include:
- Can COVID-19 be transmitted by food?
- How have we updated food safety practices in food preparation?
- What if an employee from any level of farming or food handling contracts COVID-19?
- What cleaning and sanitation procedures do we follow to keep our business COVID-free?
While you’re explaining your restaurant food safety practices, like professional cleaning products and sanitation procedures, use authentic and direct language.vi
Other Tips & Tricks for the Ultimate Survey
- Determine the best channel for sharing your survey with YOUR customer. Is your customer base more likely to respond to a quick Facebook post or an elaborate email?
- You might consider giving your customer an incentive, such as a chance to win a gift card! With so many surveys having gone out in recent months, you’ll want to stand out!
- Share information about which professional cleaning products you’re utilizing to protect your diners.
What to Do with that Post-COVID Restaurant Food Safety Feedback
After you hear what your guests have to say about your post-COVID food safety plan for restaurant success, it’s time to implement those changes!
Don’t get overwhelmed, but don’t hesitate. Select a just one or two of those commonly mentioned suggestions to work on.
While you read over that feedback and analyze it, don’t forget:
- You might come across some tough comments. There might be some negative feedback, and there’s a good chance the problem was beyond your control or a mistake made by someone else. It’s okay not to make any decisions right away – you can let the feedback sink in for a few days. You’ll find that better solutions will formulate in your mind over time.
- Offer solutions. An apology or change to the food safety practices will stand out when it comes with a “solution” – something like a gift card, a coupon, or a freebie.
- Contact customers with low satisfaction rates. Someone who was disappointed enough to write a poor survey may appreciate a second message. Offering a personal apology or solution will help the customer develop trust with your business.
- Thank customers with high satisfaction rates! Thank them all! If you have the time to add their name or send a personalized message, that strengthens your relationships with those loyal customers as well.
Guarantee your Post-COVID Survey Success
Don’t give up after sending out a single survey. Update the questions, choose a new platform and continue to share at irregular intervals.
You can be transparent with your customer and let them know why you need their opinions. If you plan on using their advice to change your business and make them feel safer and happier, let them know.
Your customers will appreciate that you are proactively updating your food safety practices as needed in these unprecedented times.
This virus has been brutal on foodservice employees, and nothing will change that; however, at least we have the amazing opportunity to learn from our customers and strengthen our relationships with them.