What you don’t know about restaurant surveys, plus a word to restaurant owners.

I enjoy cooking, but I enjoying eating out more. I enjoy eating out because except for teaching, I am only “out and about” when eating out. Eating at restaurants provides opportunities to see other people and enjoy really tasty, hot food. I live on Chick-fil-A, El Chico, Panera, and Red Lobster! (I just wish it weren’t so expensive!) These places also have surveys on almost every receipt, except Panera which occasionally emails them. 

The overwhelming majority of people either don’t see or ignore these surveys. At one of these places, the employees are forbidden from letting customers know there is one on the bottom of the receipt. 

These surveys are important to managers and other employees. They do read these comments and occasionally reply. 

A “good survey” is only defined as top-marks on EVERY QUESTION. This completely baffled me the first time and second and third time I heard about different restaurants following this requirement. Before knowing this, following the practice academics and other professional survey givers use, I would purposely not give full “perfects” on everything. Normally, all perfects or all horribles, for instance, means that someone just went through, answering the questions without reading or thinking about the most appropriate response. At restaurants, however, if you answer “very good” instead of “excellent” on any one question, the survey counts as a failing grade for the restaurant. 

Owners of restaurants, you really need to reconsider how you measure a “good survey” OR you need to explain this to customers. You also need to reward customers for completing the surveys. Make it easier too – have an easy app or don’t require that I use a different email address for each one (as one place does) or a different IP address (as another place does). Also, structure the surveys such that you get more meaningful feedback. 

No matter what, if you eat at a restaurant, remember you have an obligation to tip appropriately and to complete as many surveys as you can.  



Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives

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7 replies

  1. Thank you Andrew, how very kind!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for being a great friend!


    • Once place I worked for regularly tallied how many surveys guests completed for each server. Those who had too few were chastised in front of their coworkers, while those with many were rewarded ( although servers could call in their own). The total scores were also important. For instance, if a guest gave a low mark for the wait time to be sat, that would lower the overall score. In this instance the server probably didn’t contribute to the wait, but the server would adversely be affected. One particular focus was ticket times (how long a check was open from start to finish). Servers were punished based on long ticket times, which didn’t account for variables that were beyond the server’s control. Additionally, servers who had many regulars always had many surveys with high scores because longtime guests generally have a better understanding of surveys (in addition to great service). So yes, it’s very important for guests to understand the survey process at each establishment they frequent.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for those details, Christina. Sounds like restaurant owners need some 101/common sense sometimes!


  2. I have the same feelings about a local establishment I frequent, Honda of Clear Lake. I get a hard “sell” when leaving the service desk to rate each question on the survey as exceptional. I understand that, in some form or fashion, their salary depends on perfect surveys, but I shouldn’t be made to feel that my constructive comments will be sending them to the poor house. Honda needs to revisit this policy as it means that I never leave meaningful feedback. If I’m unhappy with a particular service visit, Honda and restaurants need to encourage thoughtful responses that will actually help to improve their businesses! (Happy spring break by the way!)


    • Happy Spring Break to you too, Johanna! Can’t wait to hear about your travels. Take some pictures, too, please! I haven’t had a real vacation since 2004! 🙂

      You are absolutely right…establishments need to welcome all feedback without it being so directly tired to a person in every case. There are times when I would say or suggest something but don’t because I don’t want to get my friends in trouble because I know the higher ups would want a person to take it out on even when it has nothing to do with a specific person!

      Liked by 1 person

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