Survey Part II: The online booking experience

Hello! Recently we commissioned a survey all about the how, when and why of restaurant bookings. We’ve already talked about some of the really interesting results in our last blog post, including 63% of diners preferring online booking over phone or email.

The previous blog post also talks a little bit about the demographics of the survey, so check that out if you’ve not done so already!

Along with our more direct questions from last time, we also asked people what were the most frustrating and helpful things that they encountered when booking a restaurant, whether online, on the phone, over email or on social media.

What frustrates your customers?

The most frustrating thing that people find when booking a restaurant is the venue not picking up their phone, with 70% of respondents marking this ‘very frustrating’ and 97% either ‘very frustrating’ or ‘mildly frustrating’. 

Bigger chains tend to have a dedicated line for reservations open all day, but the reality is that most restaurants have to juggle phone reservations with the hectic day-to-day of their business. And, because most people book a restaurant either during their lunch time or after work, those calls tend to come during the middle of service.

So it’s understandable that missed calls happen, but that doesn’t make it any nicer an experience for customers when they end up not being able to get in touch, and move on to another restaurant. 

The next most frustrating things mentioned are simply not being able to book at all, with 84% of respondents marking this as mildly or very frustrating, and only being able to book with a large group, coming in at 83%.

Of course, many restaurants in large cities have the good fortune of being always busy. But if you’re not always at 100% capacity, you’re always going to be missing customers if you don’t take bookings. 

Online booking forms like ours can solve both of these problems. 

Even those people that prefer to book over the phone are going to be more likely to turn to your website to book if they can’t get in touch, and if you’re not taking bookings because it just feels too complicated and would demand too much staff time, automating the process is the most obvious solution!

An instant, online booking form that can provide customers with a booking confirmation in seconds can also solve many of our other big frustrations: The venue not emailing back quickly (82%) and not being able to cancel a booking online (also 82%) are not only solved, but they are solved without any extra work from you.

And what makes them happy?

The number one thing that people marked as “Very helpful” on this question was being able to book at any time of day, at 81%. Of course, that’s simply never possible with phone bookings as you can only pick-up when you’re open.

Even a more ’24 hour’ solution like being able to send an email can’t solve this – see above regarding the frustration of trying to email a booking and not getting a quick response.

Instant booking, and the ability to cancel or modify bookings, also score very highly. In fact, only 8% of people surveyed suggest they wouldn’t find instant booking online helpful. 

Can you really afford to ignore 92% of your customers? Especially during, not only their very first interaction with your business, but also the most important in getting them through your doors? 

Let’s also take at the less popular options, too. 34% of people said they wouldn’t use a system that automatically adds a restaurant booking to their calendar, and only 51% said they would find getting an SMS or email on the day of booking useful.

Of course people organise their lives in different ways! Many older people don’t use online calendars or phones to manage their day, even if they use the internet on a regular basis.
But that’s only one way to look at a statistic like this: purely from a customer perspective. 

Customer experience should always be a priority, but sometimes there are features that customers might not list as something they would find helpful, that can still be incredibly valid and helpful for your business.

Having an automated way to send a reminder to a customer by SMS, as we offer on our free package, can be vital in reducing no-shows that can take a large slice of your potential revenue.

Stay Tuned (again!)

The final part of our survey blog is going to cover the individual responses to the final and open ended question – “Is there anything else you find particularly frustrating about booking a restaurant?”