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Technology is shaking up the restaurant and foodservice industry.

The end-to-end guest experience — from research and reservations to ordering, delivery, consumption, and payment — can now happen in a handful of screen taps or mouse clicks. Satiated with choices, consumers are demanding innovation in ways that drive industry trends, menu offerings, and entire operations.

For restaurateurs, this means navigating an increasingly complex market, evaluating the pace of technology, and striking the right balance for their restaurant concepts. It also underlines the need for operators to keep customers’ needs at the forefront in order to build a community of loyal patrons. Where there is great customer satisfaction, there is margin.

Here are some stats you need to know about restaurant customer satisfaction.

Restaurant Customer Satisfaction Statistics and Trends

Research and Discovery

Diners are going digital. 75 percent will at least view menus on their smartphone before trying a new restaurant. Approximately 40 percent will pay with their phone when they can. And close to one in three are receptive to SMS marketing. (Franchise Help)

Peers > Pros. 77 percent of consumers pay more attention to consumer reviews than to professional critic reviews (only 23 percent). (Weber Shandwick)

Ratings matter. 33 percent of frequent restaurant-goers would never eat at a restaurant with an average review score of less than 4 stars (out of 5) on online review websites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook. (ReviewTrackers)

Pre-meal habits. 25 percent more people turn to consumer reviews on sites like OpenTable, Yelp, and TripAdvisor than those who rely on reviews by professional food critics. 60 percent read reviews before going out for a meal, a habit that takes precedence over getting directions to a restaurant, or looking at food photos. (OpenTable)

Keep your place clean. 75 percent of consumers will not visit or patronize a restaurant with negative reviews about its cleanliness. (Harris Poll for Cintas Corporation)

Dining Experience

Loyalty factors. Diners say that complimentary extras (69 percent) and seating preferences (65 percent) would go far in increasing customer loyalty. (OpenTable)

Getting to know the diner. Among the most important things diners say they want restaurants to know (and remember: their names (65 percent) and favorite drink (50 percent). (OpenTable)

Trending keyword. In a textual analysis of more than 331,920 online reviews of more than 1,300 restaurant locations, “service” was the most frequently mentioned keyword.  (ReviewTrackers)

Frontline effect. Restaurant customer satisfaction is influenced most by responsiveness of the frontline employees, followed by price and food quality (in that order). Physical design and appearance of the restaurant did not have a significant effect. (Emerald Insight)

Stars and reservations. A half-star rating improvement on Yelp makes it 30 to 49 percent more likely that a restaurant will sell out seats during its peak hours. (Berkeley)

Restaurant Customer Satisfaction

Diners and food critics. 1 in 8 diners will post a restaurant review after their meal. (OpenTable)

Satisfaction levels of restaurant-goers in the US. Full-service restaurants and limited-service restaurants have American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) scores of 78 and 79 (out of 100), respectively. The national ACSI average (covering all sectors and industries) is 76.7. (ACSI)

Restaurant satisfaction trends. According to diners, full-service wait staff do a great job, but have slipped when it comes to getting orders right (87) and restaurants are not as clean or well laid out (85). Food quality is down (84), but wait staff courtesy and helpfulness remains high (85). (ACSI)

Review behavior. Restaurant guests are more likely to leave high ratings on Facebook than on any other review site. Also, customers are 43 percent likely to leave a review after a positive experience at a restaurant; on the other hand, after a negative experience, customers are 46.7 percent likely to leave a review. (ReviewTrackers)

The impact of engagement. When restaurants increase direct engagement with online reviewers by as little as 1 percent, positive online sentiment could increase by as much as 25 percent. (eMarketer)

The tipping debate. Restaurants that replace tipping with automatic service charges are rated lower by about a quarter of a point. Those that implement service-inclusive pricing, meanwhile, experience a ratings drop of only about a 10th of a point. (ReviewTrackers and Cornell University)

Focus on Guest Experience = Increase Customer Satisfaction

Nurture digital channels. Guest experience and customer satisfaction do not begin when the diner arrives at the restaurant. In an on-demand economy where social and mobile innovations have significantly expanded the range of crucial touchpoints, you have to be able to diversify and personalize your methods of engagement across the entire customer journey.

Stay responsive to customer needs. Restaurateurs who keep their fingers on the pulse of evolving diner demands and expectations are the ones most poised to succeed. Managing online reviews and customer feedback is critical and can spell the difference between experiences that delight and satisfy and experiences that don’t.

Invest in data and tech. Forget business cards in a fishbowl. To truly understand customers, drive restaurant customer satisfaction, and inspire loyalty, operators must make technology an investment priority — and develop the capability to collect actionable data and manage high-impact trends and issues affecting the guest experience.

Say Hello to ReviewTrackers at the NRA Show

The 2018 National Restaurant Association Show will take place from May 19 to 22 at the McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. If you’re going to be in attendance, please stop by and say hello to the ReviewTrackers team at Booth #6573. We’d love to meet you, buy you a coffee or drink, and talk about how we can continue to respond to your business needs. Not yet registered? Click here to get your badge.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

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