Call Centers are not just for taking orders!

How to use call center representatives to improve the relationships with your customers through feedback and surveys.

Off premises orders, take-out, delivery and catering, are a critical part of every restaurant’s business. Some would even say they are the most important as off-premises orders allow restaurants to collect data and interact with customers in a way that is generally not a part of the dine-in experience.

Off premises orders can be placed via online through both first party sites and third party sites, or through phone calls, taken by either your own team or a team you hire to handle these calls, or commonly referred to as call centers.

Taking orders via phone is an efficient and friendly way to interact with your customers and can provide a level of support and service not provided by online ordering, especially for customers that are new to your brand. Although the order taker’s primary responsibility is to process the order quickly and accurately, they can be so much more and help you build better relationships with guests as well as gather information that will help you serve your customers better in the future.

Regardless of whether you use your in house staff or have help using an outside service or call center, your order takers are interacting with your customers everyday, so they are in a key position to really help you better understand customer preferences.

There are two specific ways in which you can better leverage the interactions between your customers and your order takers. One is what I refer to as passive feedback and the other is more strategic and I will refer to it as active feedback.

Passive feedback is initiated by the users. It refers to insights a customer provides without being prompted. Customers will provide many insights without even specifically saying them just through their casual conversation and comments.

In most cases we let these small comments go unnoticed but they are valuable and can provide fast and clear insights on both positive and negative experiences about operations, menus, food quality, service or maybe some changes you just implemented.

David Sawicki, the EVP for Triple Impact Connections, a call center that works with leading restaurant brands provided this advice. Work with your call center team or in house call handlers and provide them with some structure on what information you may be looking for.

He said, “I have found that creating a simple and easy set of categories is helpful for our teams and will work for any call handlers.”

As an example, David recommends creating the following categories; food quality, order accuracy, timeliness, menu offerings, and service. I know these are very general but it’s ok, we don’t want to over guide the team, they are just collecting information.

Second, have the team take general notes when they hear a comment or feedback, this could be as simple as I wish you offered the special sauce for this item to why did you raise your prices? Make sure to also include the location where the order is being placed.

David also shared with me this great example that happened recently.

“Our team provides customer feedback to our restaurant clients on a regular basis, especially when we hear something we think they need to act on quickly. In one case, a restaurant operator discontinued a popular holiday special. Based on the outcry we heard from customers over the phone, this restaurant brand changed course and re-introduced this holiday special, much to the delight of their customers!”

Define how often you want the information sent over to your team. I prefer once a week if there has been any menu changes, otherwise twice a month or monthly is also effective. Its also helpful to let your team know that if they hear something repetitive to try and relay this information as quickly as possible. Just like in David’s example, where quick thinking really made the difference.

Once feedback is collected, it’s essential to analyze it systematically.

This involves:

Categorizing Feedback: Group feedback into categories, such as positive, negative, and suggestions for improvement. Call centers utilize Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) to store this information for each customer and compile data across all interactions for reporting and analytics. You can do the same or use a much less formal process as well.

Identifying Trends: Look for recurring themes or issues in the feedback.

Prioritizing Actions: Determine which issues need immediate attention and which can be addressed over time.

Creating Action Plans: Develop strategies to address identified issues, whether through process improvements, additional training, or other measures.

Monitoring Progress: Continuously track the impact of changes made in response to feedback to ensure improvements are effective.

Closing the Feedback Loop: Keep customers informed about actions taken based on their feedback. This can improve customer trust and satisfaction.

Active feedback is when a company directly asks for feedback from its customers. This is especially useful for gathering feedback on specific product releases or updates, and is often measured over time to assess progress.

Knowing that your order taker team is focused on taking orders the best way to approach active feedback is to focus on one question. Define what specific thing you want to know more about that can help you better understand your customers needs and wants.

This can be a specific question, asking as an example, what one thing would make ordering from us a better experience? What could we add to our menu that you think we’re missing? Or, is there something we can do better that would increase your likelihood of ordering from us more often? Just like with passive feedback, gather the data and work through the same analysis and action process.

Your order taker team can be an integral part of helping you improve and build great relationships with your customers. In itself the act of listening tells your customers that you are interested in their experiences and are open to hearing their feedback.

Continuous Improvement: Feedback provides valuable insights into what’s working and what needs improvement within your current operations and menu offerings.

Customer Satisfaction: Addressing customer concerns and suggestions can lead to higher customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention rates.

Product and Service Development: Feedback can inform the development of new products or services that better meet customer needs.

Employee Training: Feedback can be used to identify areas where in-store, call center and even third party partners may need additional training or support.

Competitive Advantage: Understanding customer preferences and concerns can give you an edge in a very competitive market where customers have many options. Acting on this feedback to intelligently drive changes within your organization better aligns your brand with your customer’s needs and expectations and will help you gain a competitive advantage.

Your order taker team can be an integral part of helping you improve and build great relationships with your customers. The practice of actively listening shows your customers that you are sincerely interested in their experiences and value their feedback. And that is what makes for a great relationship!

About Advisory Success Programs

The Off Premises Growth Academy is an advisory, education and certification firm with a focus on helping restaurant brands evaluate, build and implement direct to consumer off-premises programs.

We specialize in:

  • Advisory Support
  • Education & Certification for Operators & Suppliers
  • Program Evaluation
  • Strategy, Leadership, Operations, Experience, & Promotion Guidance and Support

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About Triple Impact Connections 

Triple Impact Connections (www.tripleimpact.com) is a minority- and veteran-owned customer communications company founded in 2018 by three West Point classmates to provide employment opportunities for active-duty Military spouses. Its “triple mission” is to provide client companies with superior customer service, provide jobs for spouses of Military families to assure financial stability and career opportunities, and to give back to severely wounded veterans by pledging a third of profits to Sentinels of Freedom, a non-profit organization that helps veterans complete their higher education.

David Sawicki

EVP

(207) 956-2785

Email: dsawicki@tripleimpact.com

www.tripleimpact.com

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