One of the key findings of our recent research into customer experience at UK casual dining restaurants is the power of online social reviews, with the all-seeing TripAdvisor the most powerful of them all.

With restaurant operators lagging behind Wagamama and Nando’s when it comes to quality of food, healthy food choices and speed of service, poor customer experiences are rife with over 1 in 5 customers dissatisfied. Customers care about the following combination of features during their experience – high quality food, good value for money, friendly and fast service, menu variety and, most importantly, the feeling that they are having an experience not just a transaction.

Yet the research shows that of the diners who had a bad experience, 1 in 4 do not take their issues up with the restaurant at the time. Instead, a growing number of diners are posting their bad experiences on review sites to warn others of their less than satisfactory experiences.

TripAdvisor is revealed as the go-to site for casual dining reviews, dwarfing nearest rival Facebook and accounting for a massive 75% of all social media/review sites used by diners. Restaurant operators will often find out from posts on TripAdvisor when their food is of poor quality or extended wait times, long after the customer has left the restaurant.

There are lessons to learn from social monitoring and regular management of review sites such as TripAdvisor. The encouragement of complaint handling will go a long way to stemming the tide of negative reviews. However, until some brands up their game on what diners are looking for, they will continue to offer a customer experience that is not worth a diner repeating. It is clear that online reputation and overall customer experience are big influencers when it comes to casual dining.

With the insights that our research can provide, operators can identify the weaknesses in their dining model and target improvements in their business. Market Force has years of experience in working with these restaurants to drive the right customer outcomes.  If you feel you could benefit from a review of your approach, then just get in touch.

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