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How to Design Restaurant Survey Questions for Actionable Insights | Superorder

Written by
March 15, 2024

The Science of Survey Design: How to Craft Questions for Actionable Insights

Modern businesses rely on data for nearly every aspect of their operation, and restaurants are no different. In fact, collecting customer surveys to gather insights into what people do and don't like about an establishment is critical to success in the restaurant industry. With fierce competition and evolving consumer tastes, you need surveys and questionnaires to develop strategies for improvement and growth.

But sending simple surveys isn't enough. Survey design matters more than most realize! Basic reviews and single-question comment cards don't provide enough information to develop actionable insights. Furthermore, a poorly designed survey that doesn't ask the right questions can lead you astray and fail to highlight what's truly important to your customers.

This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about how to build effective feedback surveys. From the types of questions you need to ask to more complex concepts like skip branching, the information you'll learn here can help you get the most out of customer feedback.

Why is it Important?

Ultimately, good survey design is key to gathering high-quality data.

The problem with poorly designed surveys is that they can be too ambiguous to pull any meaningful insights. You're not just gathering feedback for your good health. Every response and comment you receive must go through survey analysis to help you learn about your business and what people think of it.

That information is crucial to your growth strategies and will play a part in your decision-making. It helps you make the right choices for your restaurant, paving the way to greater success and more happy patrons.

But that's not all. Effective surveys with high-quality research questions can improve buy-in from customers.

The work of researchers and efforts from restaurateurs is nothing without respondents willing to provide their thoughts! That's why it's so important to create a great user experience. A well-designed survey will be pleasant, nonintrusive and easy enough for customers to complete. It can foster more engagement, helping you gather as much data for analysis as possible and maximize the overall effectiveness of your feedback strategy.

Defining Survey Objectives

The first step in developing a high-quality survey with top-notch questions is to define your objectives. You need a purpose for the study and well-defined goals of what you want to learn.

Open-ended feedback requests are great, but there are countless ways for customers to leave positive or negative reviews. When sending out surveys and feedback forms, you want a clear goal.

Think about what you're trying to learn about your business. Are you interested in knowing more about the level of customer service your staff is providing so that you can offer better training? Or do you want to see what people think about the quality of your food and menu items? Maybe you wish to send out UX surveys to understand how your app looks and operates on different mobile devices.

Whatever the case, define your objective to develop a well-designed survey that's focused and highly efficient.

Selecting Appropriate Question Types

Another thing to consider is what question types would support your objectives and help you gather the information you're after. There are many different types of questions you can ask in a survey.

For example, you could ask multiple-choice questions that force respondents to choose from various options. These questions are a great choice when narrowing down customer preferences or revealing whether a patron agrees or disagrees with a particular issue.

You could also do open-ended questions that allow respondents to comment freely in their own words. While multiple-choice questions are close-ended, open-ended questions provide more freedom and flexibility. They allow people to supplement a simple response with a “why” or provide suggestions, serving as a great source of qualitative data.

Another option is to do scaled questions or those with a rating system. For instance, you could ask survey takers to rate how much they like certain menu items on a scale of 1 to 10. Or, you could use the Likert scale to analyze customer sentiment about a specific topic and gather more quantitative data.

Knowing what question types to use based on your objectives can make all the difference. It's also possible to include several question types in your questionnaire design to get a well-rounded response.

Writing Clear and Concise Questions

Concise questions are critical when performing market research. Whether you're sending a UX survey or want to learn about consumer preferences, your questions should be laser-focused.

Ambiguity is the quickest way to ruin a survey. When developing questions, stick to the “Three C's”: Clear, Concise and communicative.

Write from the perspective of your respondents. Avoid any technical jargon and overly flowery language. Steer clear of any implied bias and keep your wording neutral. Then, ensure there's zero ambiguity in what you're asking. Ensure there are no ways a respondent could misinterpret the question. Otherwise, your responses may be all over the place and ruin your results.

Structuring Questions for Flow

A good survey will have a logical flow from one question to the next. This approach ensures that your survey makes sense. It provides more clarity and makes your survey more approachable, improving the user experience for respondents.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when developing surveys is jumping between topics. It's okay to have multi-topic questionnaires or to dive into different aspects of the customer experience at your restaurant. But you want to ensure that everything flows well and that your questions smoothly transition between sections.

For example, you wouldn't want to ask your target audience what they think about the ordering experience on your app before jumping immediately to the quality of the food.

Consider breaking your questions up into various sections based on the topic. Experiment with question placement to get things right.

Optimizing Rating Scales

Rating scales are a fantastic way to gather quantitative data about various topics, and they're more flexible than you might think. For example, you could have an entire section devoted to how likely a customer would be to recommend your restaurant to others based on specific factors. Or, you could use scales to evaluate the performance of your staff, the quality of a product, etc.

But for these questions to be successful, you must optimize the scale. Scales should be wide enough to encompass all possible choices and sentiments for respondents. But they need to be concise and easy to understand.

Many basic rating scales are familiar enough for respondents to use when expressing honest opinions. Good examples include basic 1-10 scales and the Likert scale. However, you should always consider your objectives and the type of data you need to collect. Don't be afraid to tweak scales where appropriate to maximize efficiency.

Utilizing Skip Logic and Branching

Skip logic is a more complex survey concept, but it's something you should utilize. Skip logic refers to a dynamic survey strategy that changes what questions respondents see next based on their response to the previous query.

For example, you might have a multiple-choice question that directs survey takers to a brand-new section. Or, you could send a respondent who rates an experience low to a more open-ended question to allow them to tell you why they felt that way.

The possibilities are endless, but skip logic is a powerful concept that can make your surveys more impactful. The technique is sometimes called “conditional branching” and gives survey takers a custom path based on their responses.

Incorporating Demographics

In the restaurant industry, you want to bring in people from all walks of life. But to truly understand what matters to your customers, incorporating demographics is important. You need to identify your target audience, and questions should be relevant to their needs.

Incorporating demographic questions allows you to gain more insight into different customer segments. The needs and preferences of someone in their 20s are far different from someone in their 50s! The same goes for people who make high incomes versus someone who's on a budget and looking for deals.

Without demographic data, you wouldn't have an accurate view of what your customers think. Segmentation is an integral part of market research, and you should collect demographic information to ensure you're getting accurate information and useful insights.

You can ask questions about age, gender, location and more in the early parts of your survey. With skip logic, the responses to those questions can take customers to questions relevant to their segment.

Testing and Refining Surveys

Once you go through the work of building a well-designed survey, you need to perform ample testing. While surveys might not seem like a huge deal, publishing poorly designed questionnaires could turn your customers off from leaving any feedback in the future. You need to hit it out of the gate from day one!

To do that, test and refine your surveys. Consider doing a soft launch with a small group of customers. Analyze the results and identify areas that need improvement. A pilot test can help you refine every survey detail to ensure it's ready for the masses.

Take things even further and consider doing A/B testing. You can split your pilot group up, giving a small number of participants a slightly different version of your survey to see what works best.

Analyzing and Applying Results

With proper implementation, you can gather a mountain of data. But raw data is useless without survey analysis!

Fortunately, various tools can help you visualize data and pull meaningful insights. At Superorder, we consolidate customer opinions, identify your strengths, pinpoint weaknesses and highlight valuable trends that could become big business opportunities. Use those tools to communicate findings clearly and make real improvements to your restaurant.

The entire goal of feedback surveys is to help your business grow. No restaurant is perfect. No matter how much you invest in your operations, there is always room to change for the better. Surveys help you unveil what needs changing.

Whether you discover that customers don't like your packaging or they're having trouble ordering through your app, put those actionable insights to the test. Surveys are a powerful tool for improvement in the restaurant business. After going through the trouble of building a great survey, you need to analyze and apply the results to maximize the return on your investment.

Fostering Continuous Improvement

Creating a great survey is a big accomplishment, but market research is not a one-and-done affair. Making feedback surveys an integral part of your operations and culture is the key to continued growth and success. Restaurants should always strive for greatness.

Don't rest on your laurels! Customer needs evolve. While your surveys might show that patrons are happy about a particular aspect of your business now, things could change six months down the line. Never assume that your findings are concrete.

Continue to develop results and update your surveys as necessary. Use those surveys as an opportunity for continuous improvement. When you make changes, create another survey to see what people think! A nonstop feedback loop makes it easy to expand your restaurant's horizons and always shoot for the stars.

Get Started With Superorder Today

As you can see, survey design can be a real art! Gathering feedback isn't as simple as asking a list of questions. To improve your business and turn your restaurant into a top-rated establishment, you must treat survey development and market research like any other operation. Be strategic about your approach.

Use our tips to fine-tune your surveys, define your objectives and ask questions that count. With top-notch surveys, you'll have all the insight you need to take your restaurant to the next level.

Check out Superorder to streamline your operations and transform how you create surveys. Superorder is an all-in-one restaurant management platform with several features that can help you increase sales, protect your business and more.

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