Ditch the Survey Tool, Everything You Need Is in Your Restaurant Reviews

Imagine providing your operations team with quantitative guest experience data that will also improve your restaurant’s online reputation — without requiring customers to take a survey. Tony Roma’s made that a reality this year.

With 135 locations in 25 countries, Tony Roma’s relied heavily on its traditional survey tool to inform executives and their field teams how each location was performing compared to brand standards. Like many restaurant brands, after a customer dined in, they would ask their guests to fill out a survey from a URL printed on the receipt. Guests were incentivized to complete the survey in exchange for a free appetizer, and the brand averaged about 2,000 surveys a week.

But while Tony Roma’s was collecting reviews internally, there was a whole other source of customer feedback that the team was missing — public reviews. And even though the restaurant brand was taking care of guests that provided negative feedback, there was no way to display those efforts to potential customers. So Tony Roma’s decided to invest in a platform that would allow the team to collect first-party reviews (which are public), understand what guests were saying about them via sentiment analysis, and then respond to those reviews publically.

A first-party review is feedback that a customer leaves for a brand on its owned properties (like its website or app). Typically, a brand will ask for a first-party review via a link on a receipt or in an email following a guest’s visit. Sentiment analysis then analyzes each word from a review and gives it a positive or negative rating (e.g., the word “clean” would receive a positive score, and the word “gross” would get a negative score.

The Tony Roma’s’ marketing and operations team switched from their traditional survey tool to a location-level reviews product. They set up collections for their six major corporate KPIs, and included keywords from different languages so that the operations team could provide franchisee level feedback on topics like atmosphere, food quality, and employee attentiveness.

“We recognized that reviews have a huge influence on consumers’ dining choices,” said Hannah Ulm, Director of Marketing at Tony Roma’s. “We wanted to find a way to gather authentic guest feedback while improving our review scores and brand perception. We’ve done so much work to improve the experience in the restaurant, but that wasn’t reflected to potential guests who checked review sites.”

Six months after launching, Tony Roma’s collected more monthly reviews than its legacy survey tool, and made the decision to sunset the customer incentive for leaving feedback. In June, July, and August, the restaurant brand collected over 3,500 reviews per month. The entire leadership team, and regional Vice Presidents, receive monthly reports unique to their locations and whatever sentiment keywords they’re interested in.

“We’re already seeing additional ways to use this information beyond improving the restaurant experience,” Ulm said. “We’re currently using our ‘value’ collection to help us determine locations that have opportunities to potentially raise prices. We also plan to utilize sentiment information to add another layer of qualitative data to our new product testing.”

Beyond the actionable data collection that the operations and field teams are utilizing to support global franchisees, Tony Roma’s has seen a .11 average increase in star rating across all locations, and a 53% increase in customer actions on Google from June to August of 2018.

Through first-party review generation, combined with sentiment analysis, Tony Roma’s saved money, improved their online reputation, increased customer click-through rates and solved a marketing and operations need. And they managed to achieve it all using a single, centralized platform.

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