How often do you get to hear what patrons think of your pub? Everyday? Once a week? Only when the moon turns blue?
Perhaps you’re among those who DO seek out the opinions of your pub’s customers.
Yet, too many pub owners gather customer opinions by chance. Like when a customer sends an email to the pub or when a conversation is overheard in the bar.
The truth is these sparse chance encounters fall way short of representing the general patron viewpoint.
Understanding your customers needs and wants is vital for running a pub successfully. Because it enables you to stock the right products, offer the best service… and ensure they don’t find another pub that does!
Whether you seek out customer opinions or not, it’s worth reiterating just why it’s so important to gather customer feedback.
That’s exactly what we’re going to do in the first of this two part series. In part two we offer practical in-depth advice on how to run a pub feedback strategy (without bugging the hell out of your customers!).
Before we get to that point, here are 7 key reasons for finding out what your customers think of your pub…
1. Helps you to measure customer satisfaction
One of the most obvious advantages of customer feedback, is that you can discover whether they’re enjoying the experience of drinking or eating in your pub.
From customer surveys – or old fashioned bar chat – you can find out whether they like your selection of wines, real ales, food menu, customer service and so on.
It’s essential to gather this information because the satisfaction levels of your pub customers perfectly illustrate what you’re doing well and what you can be doing better.
2. Gives you fresh insights from the people who matter most
Someone who views your business from a different perspective will notice things that you don’t. Including the kind of things you’ll kick yourself for not knowing.
For example, perhaps a customer missed out on your live music night because it wasn’t promoted well enough. Maybe the posters were tucked away in the corner of the pub or it wasn’t prominently featured on the Facebook page.
And they had a whole bunch of friends who would have come along for it. If so, that’s a lot of money you just missed out on!
Whether you’ve been running a pub for 30 days or 30 years, you never stop learning. So, never be too proud to learn from your customers.
3. Directs you towards creating a better pub customer service
Successfully gathering the views of your customers, and gauging their needs, enables you to plan and create an improved pub customer service. It’s difficult to keep everyone happy all of the time.
Indeed, you might come across some wacky, unworkable ideas. Ultimately, it’s up to you how you respond to the suggestions and opinions you receive.
But a word of warning…
…DO keep an open mind when approaching customer feedback. All criticism should be seriously considered and you mustn’t let your innate sense of pride stop you from re-thinking aspects of your pub customer service and promotional activities.
4. Enables you to retain customers more successfully
By hearing what your customers think, you are in a stronger position to ensure they remain patrons in your pub. Respond by giving them what they want and more. Happy customers return, unhappy ones don’t.
Providing the right kind of service for the patrons in your catchment area is crucial. It’s what stops them from switching to a rival pub, or settling for a night in front of the telly.
5. Helps you make shrewd business decisions
Every free-spirited soul loves the idea of going with a hunch and being proved right. The truth is most successful pub landlords and entrepreneurs don’t rely on some supernatural intuition; they rely on understanding their customers.
Because the pub isn’t about you, it’s about the people who frequent your pub. Getting their feedback will help you make better business decisions which, in turn, will drive the profitability of your business.
Want to start selling sour beer? How about talking to your regulars first? By hearing out opinions on various aspects of your pub’s service and product range, you are in a stronger position to make a ‘great call’.
6. Demonstrates that you value customers opinions
Just going through the process of asking customers what they think is good PR. It shows that you care about their views and are passionate about providing a great pub customer service.
Let’s say your bartender has an engaging conversation with a customer about a particular wine you’re serving. What this does is demonstrate that the staff member is interested and cares about the subject at hand, as well as the customer’s viewpoint.
This is also true of discussions on social media, via email or over the phone.
7. Enables you to stay abreast of current trends
Trends change. They’re good at that. Particularly in the pub industry. There are two key methods for keeping up-to-date with the latest trends popular with customers:
i. Reading relevant trade publications, daily newspapers, and any industry-related reports.
ii. Getting the opinions of your clientele in the pub and online.
In an earlier example we mentioned ‘sour beer’. It’s all the rage apparently and I came across it by reading the Telegraph. Does that mean your punters will also like it? Not necessarily. Your best gauging their views about it first.
Even if it’s a non-starter, at least it’s provided an interesting talking point.
Hopefully, you’re now feeling inspired to get out there and find out what your customers really think of your pub. Good, bad or ambivalent.
NEXT: We show you the proven methods for successfully gathering customer opinions and what to do with the results.