AgEBB-MU CAFNR Extension

David Burton
Civic Communications Specialist
2400 S. Scenic Ave.
Springfield, MO 65807

June 26, 2018

Measuring Customer Satisfaction Can Help a Business Outperform Competitors

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Customer satisfaction can be key to helping a business outperform competitors. Of course, the only way for a business owner to measure customer satisfaction is to effectively survey customers and monitor competitors.

"Aggressively seeking out customer priorities and preferences can shape better business decisions," said David Burton, community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension. "Many business owners assume they know what the customer wants but savvy entrepreneurs should actively solicit customer feedback to measure performance."

Burton says one of his favorite restaurants has a great customer comment card that asks four yes/no questions. Were you greeted upon arrival? Were you happy with your food? Was the restaurant clean? Did you receive a good value?

The card then goes a little deeper and asks several other questions, like: "were you seated within 10 minutes of your arrival?"

"Note the level of detail in that question," said Burton. "This restaurateur has identified the amount of time their customers are willing to wait before the wait becomes an irritant. Identifying and responding to customer preferences means avoiding the disappointment that may make customers leave for another restaurant option."

Another great question: "how many items you found of the menu that you would like to try?"

"Again, this is a more complex question to identify than whether you find multiple attractive choices on the menu," said Burton. "A question like, 'are there sufficient choices to entice you back?' may be used as a way to produce a customer-driven menu. Alternate surveys ask for items or categories that you wish were on the menu."

For example, more and more diners expect to see vegetarian or vegan options. Recently diners are looking for "gluten free" options, and some are interested in locally grown items. Identifying these additional options may encourage repeat customers.

A question like, "were you greeted by the manager during your meal?" provides several layers of information to the business owner. The personal greeting from the manager communicates to the customer their value and importance to the organization.

"This provides a way for customers to point out any problems to a decision-maker who can provide quick satisfaction. Remember, the customer may not feel comfortable giving a negative message to their server," said Burton.

It is also a good idea to ask for "additional comments" because this gives customers a free-form area for comments that provide a chance to understand items of importance to them.

"Whether you have a restaurant, retail, or manufacturing firm, understanding customer preferences, and pursuing a customer focus may increase retention and increase profits, even during the economic downturn," said Burton.


Community development specialists in southwest Missouri offer a customized program called "At Your Service." Participants learn about working with multicultural communities and how to distinguish themselves with great customer service. The program can be offered in a full-day, half day, or lunch-and-learn types of settings. For an estimate on bringing this program to your employees contact one of these specialists: Dr. Amy Patillo, David Burton or Dr. Pam Duitsman in Greene County, (417) 881-8909.

Source: David Burton, (417) 881-8909

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