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It's no secret that the restaurant sector is a very competitive segment of the service industry to survive in for full-service restaurant concepts. Most restaurants struggle to make it past the first, second, and third years of business; the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that only around 25% of the restaurants that opened in 2004 were still in business eight years later in 2012.

With such an intimidatingly high failure rate, this business is not for the faint of heart or those who fear change.

We were lucky to have Tom Prince, founder and owner of Tomasso Trattoria start using On The Spot's mobile survey tool in February 2011 to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty based on real-time feedback.

What follows is a very nice testimonial from Tom - which should help everyone in this space improve their loyalty programs.

Prince believes that the addition of On The Spot's mobile survey tool has had both tangible and intangible benefits that have played a key role in the success and profitability of Tomasso Trattoria.

It is so essential in this day and age to use real-time survey tools because it supplies a depth of beneficial knowledge to restaurant operators specific to their business and customer base. The company administers the surveys during "available guest time(TM)" -- the time when a patron's check is being processed -- by providing guests with a survey board.

Pioneered by On The Spot Systems for use in the service industry a 'survey board' is an iPod touch programmed to run the survey that sits atop a lightweight bamboo board and can be easily handed to guests at the table. Tomasso Trattoria also offers an iPad kiosk programmed to run the survey at the front of the house so that patrons can also take the survey and sign up for the newsletter club as they leave the restaurant.

Impressively, 91.3% of Tomasso Trattoria guests that are offered the option to skip the survey and just sign up for the email club will voluntarily opt-in to take the survey. This validates the value of the data that the restaurant is receiving and they are extremely proud of because it shows that guests value the opportunity not just to stay in touch for promotions, but also to give their feedback.

Whether or not customers choose to take the survey, they're asked to join the Tomasso Trattoria newsletter mailing list to receive special promotions and offers. Over 3,500 customer email addresses have been collected from the survey and are automatically fed into their email-marketing database; the ability to e-market and promote restaurant specials to this list drives foot traffic and revenue, increases social buzz and the likeliness of customer recommendations.

In fact, the National Restaurant Association published their findings from a survey conducted on dining habits in 2012, which showed an industry standard of 45% of diners say that they respond strongly to promotional advertisement via email.

This high conversion rate from marketing to purchase intent means that a growing email-marketing list will continue to enable Tomasso Trattoria to strengthen their customer base and encourage repeat visits.

Prince reflected on the intangible benefits of the survey data, stating,

If a customer has a poor experience with their meal, they have the opportunity to vent and give feedback directly to the restaurant instead of running home to post their opinion on a social network. We've seen a noticeable decrease in customers airing their grievances on public forums such as Yelp!, which could be seen by any interested diner.

Tomasso Trattoria isn't the only restaurant that should be worried about the negative effects of poor comments on peer-review websites for their business;

The National Restaurant Association conducted research on dining habits and found that 34% of diners base their decision on what restaurant to go to from peer comments and reviews on forums and social network sites.

Another benefit of switching to the service was realized through the level of engagement of the staff. As the restaurant industry remains fiercely competitive, it has become increasingly important that the staff members in the front of the house are truly involved in enhancing the guest experience and contributing towards positive impressions of the restaurant's service and atmosphere.

With the addition of the mobile survey, Prince has been able to realize a significant improvement in the awareness and recognition of customer feedback as a driver of success. Prince said,

The survey has made it more apparent to the staff that customer feedback is the ultimate evaluation of their performance.

When asked how using a mobile device to take the survey improved the process of data collection Prince answered enthusiastically.

As he said, "The mobile devices are fun and easy to use. For some of the older clients who don't have as much experience with modern technology, the survey gives them a chance to explore and have fun with something that they don't regularly see. Using mobile technology not only improves the process of data collection, it is also infinitely more responsive.

In Prince's words, "Our response rate from our previous paper survey forms was miniscule as compared with the high response rate we get from On The Spot Systems."cognition of customer feedback as a driver of success. Prince said, "The survey has made it more apparent to the staff that customer feedback is the ultimate evaluation of their performance."

"In an industry like hospitality, whenever you are given the opportunity to get customer feedback you need to jump on it. That is why On The Spot Systems is so useful; the survey is quick, efficient, and innovative," said Prince. He continued, "The specific comments we get about food and service allow us to make quick and effective changes in either product or people."

On The Spot Systems allows Tomasso Trattoria to constantly change and innovate to suit customers' needs, likes, and dislikes in a modern and convenient manner. We are thankful to Tom for such a fulsome testimonial!

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