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A Comment Card For Restaurants

Feb 25, 2022 | Blog, Restaurant

What is a restaurant comment card?

A restaurant comment card is a simple way to let customers leave feedback after their meal. The restaurant industry has used them for a long time – Denny’s for over 50 years. They are a physical paper card requesting input from the diner. They’re usually placed at the table or counter where they ate. In some places, they even come with a tip jar. This allows restaurants to collect customer feedback without having to ask them directly. Either way, the idea is to encourage them to write down their thoughts and suggestions for improvement.

Restaurant comment cards are becoming more common – perhaps as a reaction to social media review sites like Yelp. After all many businesses do not trust Yelp reviews and want a more reliable method of obtaining feedback and improving customer relationships.

Anyone can create a restaurant comment card using a template. However we argue in this post, that some customer ideas are better than others. So simply downloading a free paper comment card template is unwise.  Much better is to implement a digital comment card, which also relies on paper signage. Moreover, we have free template samples for you to enjoy.

What is the role of restaurant comment cards?

Restaurants are constantly striving to provide their guests with a great experience. One way they can do this is by providing comment cards for guests to leave feedback. This allows the restaurant to see what their guests think about their food, service, and overall experience. By using comment cards, restaurants can improve their service and make sure that their guests are happy. Happy guests means fewer defections. That’s the theory anyway. Remember that restaurants lose significant numbers of customers, for all sorts of reasons (though the main reasons for attrition been well documented), so must use something to improve business.

In this way, the comment card should be thought of as just one tool to improve the restaurant but performing several roles:

  • Improving restaurant operations. By taking input from guests and improving what is delivered.
  • Preventing customer complaints. By having a comment card system in place, restaurants can identify and resolve any issues quickly and efficiently.
  • Stopping customer defection. Acting on guest feedback improves the restaurant offer and the chances that a customer will go to a competitor.
  • Provides a blueprint for action. The comment card system will help to identify any problems in a timely manner – so staff know exactly what is the problem, how to fix it and which customer to contact.

What is the advantage of comment card in your restaurant?

Comment cards can deliver actionable feedback to staff. However, the most important thing you should know before a comment card is that it does not guarantee any action from the customer. It only helps you to understand what they want. If you don’t take action on their feedback, then they won’t come back again. So for comments like these – some action and improvement is possible:

It was great to dine here again last night. Your food was delicious although the service a bit slow.

Action: Understand average wait time and improve service speed

I noticed that you didn’t serve my drink quite cold enough. I think that it would have been more refreshing if it had been colder.

Action: Confirm why the drink was cold? Improve bar staff training

Your service was spot on and everyone who came by our table was very polite, but maybe a bit too chatty.

Action: Focus on staff to customer interaction

I thought your prices were a little high for the quality of food that I received. I would like you to consider lowering them in the future.

Action: Review margins and menu options against the customer segment you are targeting

How do I write a comment card for a restaurant?

There are two components – the content and the format (or template).

The most common mistake people make when writing a comment card is they assume that the answer should be a short one sentence statement. It should be longer than this. It should include space for a brief description of what happened, and what the customer would like to see changed. It must also include opportunity for analysis, rather than just rely on long form answers. This means that the comment card MUST include some numeric questions.

With any feedback program, it is better to start by confirming what you don’t know and thus what you want to find out. Once this is known, then prioritize this list and start the feedback programing asking the questions that will deliver the greatest value. Something like one below maybe too much!

A bad comment card

Should I use a restaurant comment card template?

Yes – but be careful! Some templates will cause more harm than create value.

The opening title and introduction is the easy bit. Something like welcome below is appropriate to convey a since request for feedback.

Our restaurant offers a comment card for guests to leave feedback. Comments can be left on the card, emailed to the restaurant, or left in the guestbook. We would love to hear your thoughts!

Rather than just copy a template – use a guide that helps pinpoint some of the common errors seen in many restaurant comment templates.

We think there are at least 12 frequent comment card design errors so suggest reviewing these first.

Why restaurant comment cards are problematic

Whilst easy to use, and produce – there are many disadvantages in the typical paper based comment card. Some of these include:

  • It can be difficult to keep track of who has commented and when
  • Processing feedback cards for restaurants can be time-consuming. Because restaurateurs are so focused on the day-to-day operations of their business, it can be difficult to prioritize reading comment cards, recording feedback and responding to customers appropriately.

And when you finally have time to address the customer feedback, it may be too late to recover an angry customer. (sevenrooms.com)

But this is just the tip of the iceberg:

  • Many unhappy customers just wont use them and rather complain online. The consequences of this are disastrous, hence we recommend don’t use social media for feedback.
  • If someone does leave feedback, it’s usually because they’ve had a terrible experience. According to Inc., only one in 10 happy customers will let you know what they think. While negative feedback tends to be more constructive than positive feedback, receiving mostly negative feedback can give you an inaccurate representation of what guests think. Comment cards tend to do a poor job eliciting responses from customers whose sentiment falls between these two extremes.
  • Cards can be lost or forgotten if they are not stored in a centralized location.
  • Comments can take a long time to process and some may never reach management
  • Verbatim statements can be difficult to read – so why ask for feedback?
  • Comments are subjective and not representative

For a more extensive list of the advantages and disadvantages of comment cards – see our review.

A restaurant comment card of the future

Technology has advanced so that the disadvantages of the traditional restaurant comment card can be overcome. A digital comment card is a much better solution. Rather than present a list of questions on paper, or expect the diner to use an unhygienic tablet – the cell phone should be used.

Request feedback using signage like this – anywhere in the restaurant (even the restrooms):

Restaurant Table Talker Feedback Signs

You will get more feedback and be immediately if a customer is unhappy. This means you can fix the issue and connect with them while they are still in the location. This means happier customers, fewer defections and less complaining on social media.

Check out the RunningRestaurants podcast the importance of restaurant feedback and how others have said goodbye to the paper based comment card and those crazy templates.

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