Putting customer feedback to work


I had family visiting me in the city last weekend, which always means eating out a little more than usual. Our first such excursion was breakfast, which brought me to a diner that I hadn’t eaten at in months. Compared to my previous meal there, two things stood out:

– The server left a large bottle of water on the table for us to pour as desired, rather than relying on hovering busboys to walk by with a pitcher.

– The shredded hash browns had been replaced by large potato chunks.

Both of these changes made the experience far better than I expected. In particular, the perfectly seasoned potatoes were just about the best I’ve ever tasted. They were so good, in fact, that I asked our server if there was a story behind them.

Sure enough, she explained that the restaurant had received customer feedback indicating that the old hash browns were boring and lacked anything to distinguish them from the other breakfast places in town. So, they decided to take a different approach, which led to the crispy, seasoned potatoes instead. Similarly, I’m guessing that customers told them that having someone hover over the table with a pitcher of water was annoying, hence the self-service bottle instead.

If I had known about these improvements earlier, I probably wouldn’t have waited so long to return to this restaurant. And this underscores one of the funny things about customer feedback. It’s great to gather feedback from your customers and put it to work to make their experience better in the future. But it’s also important to let current and prospective customers know that you’re listening and making improvements, since the very thing you just changed might be all it takes to get people to give your place another try.