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Taco John’s, one of America’s leading quick serve Mexican restaurants, has recently partnered with InMoment, a cloud-based customer engagement and consulting agency, to improve customer relationship management strategies through a new guest satisfaction survey program.
Shawn Eby, VP of Operations at Taco John’s, and Billie Jo Waara, CMO of Taco John’s, were excited to talk to Loyalty360 about how the program was going and where it is heading.
How has the Partnership with InMoment benefited Taco John’s?
Eby: The reason we picked InMoment is because they can bench mark us against other quick serve restaurants, and we can go against the data and see, every month, are we getting closer to it, further away? I can see how we compare with other restaurants, and we’re continuing to move the needle.
The metrics are also based off a standard. Everyone can look at friendliness, order accuracy, and things like that. We have five or six of those basic categories that we really look at. Did they get the food they wanted? Was it correct? Was it hot? And did a happy person serve it to them?
How has your approach to customer engagement changed over the years?
Eby: What’s changed for us at Taco John’s are the procedures and policies that we didn’t have in the past. Now it’s really guest-centric. Instead of a blanket-wide approach, now I have the restaurants compare against themselves.
So one restaurant in Colorado might be doing something differently because that’s what their guests are expecting in that area, versus, say Sioux Falls. It’s all kind of similar but it really helps to get down to their restaurant, and they can feel like they’re making an impact on the entire system.
Has the guest satisfaction survey program helped Taco John’s evolve in other areas as well?
Waara: What is unique about how we’re doing our measurement program is that it isn’t just about guest satisfaction. It really is a tool that we use on a strategic level to deliver not only a consistent customer experience, but also an experience that is appealing and attractive to other investors. So as we grow, as we look to new investors, as we continue to be a leader in the quick serve market, we really needed a strategic pillar to show that Taco John’s is a high-quality restaurant.
It’s also allowed us to run some tests in stores without having a formal quantitative research program in place. For example, if we wanted to roll new packaging, and instead of asking guests about it, we get to roll that packaging, see their reactions in the guest satisfaction scores as part of the overall experience. And if we see an impact, we could then roll that packaging enhancement. So it’s become a secondary research tool for other issues outside of just guest satisfaction.
Have you encountered any unexpected positive or negative outcomes from the program?
Waara: Sometimes a measurement program isn’t well received because it’s kind of like Big Brother looking over your shoulder. But a lot of crews have really embraced it as an opportunity to talk about the positives, the positive things customers are saying, and the positive kudos that are coming into the store immediately. And that’s really motivating. At the end of a shift employees say, “I didn’t just serve tacos today, I made a difference in someone’s life. I brighten their day.”
That’s the intangible stuff that you never expect.
Have you noticed that customer expectations are changing?
Waara: There is certainly the expectation that we are going to be more transparent in how we prepare the food, and we’re going to be more responsive to that feedback. We have to look at how we are not delivering. Are customers expecting more? And this type of program allows us to identify those issues.
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