An overwhelming number of consumers (94%) who have visited pubs, restaurants and bars in England in the two weeks since reopening were satisfied with the safety steps in venues they visited, with 96% being likely to recommend a visit to friends and family.
While 48% of customers accept their eating and drinking out experience feels ‘different’, it is reassuringly so, according to responses via the new ‘We hear you’ initiative, designed to gauge consumer feedback and identify ways to increase consumer confidence and footfall.
The responses reveal that around 65% of customers had visited more than one venue since the re-openings and from the 4,866 customers who provided feedback 52% felt that their experience was not compromised by safety precautions. Of those that felt their experience was compromised, 88% understood that the precautions were necessary.
The research confirms that the level of protection put in place by operators is an important factor when it comes to how confident consumers feel, with 77% of diners stating that they considered the precautionary measures being taken before visiting a venue, while nearly half admitted to pre-visit nerves. The majority of those that have eaten out since establishments re-opened have stuck to places they know well, with just 14% of consumers trying new places. However, 91% stated that their overall experience made them feel reassured enough to visit again.
‘We hear you’ has been launched by guest insights platform Yumpingo supported by trade body UKHospitality and data and research consultancy CGA. It allows the real-time monitoring of customer sentiment via several methods including QR codes, integration with wi-fi and order and pay platforms. Diners complete a one-minute review on their experience enabling operators to monitor and act upon consumer feedback on Covid-19 precautions and customer satisfaction (net promoter scores) at brand, store, shift and dish level.
The scheme’s partners are urging operators to sign up for the free service, following the lead of some of the UK’s biggest brands including YO! Sushi, Zizzi, Loungers, Robinsons Brewery, Pizza Express and LEON. In the first two weeks of opening several thousand consumers have already provided real-time reviews of their experience, giving valuable insight for operators ahead of the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme to drive customer visits in August. The results also provide a benchmark of progress on consumer confidence nationally, regionally and by service style, which will be fed back to Government.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls, commenting on the launch of ‘We hear you’, said: “We know the next six months will be crucial for hospitality and survival will depend on a concerted and joint effort from everyone within the industry.
“We’ve worked closely with the Government to ensure safe venues upon re-opening and the ‘We hear you’ tool, with help from operators, will ensure their customers are happy, comfortable and more importantly confident that the industry is listening and doing what it can to make them feel safe.”
While feedback on eating out experiences have so far been positive, CGA research reveals that only one in three consumers who previously ate out regularly have returned to doing so, giving the hospitality sector a challenge to rebuild customer confidence and re-establish the going-out habit.
Gary Goodman, CEO and founder of Yumpingo said: “As an industry, we must unite to support 120,000 plus restaurants, bars and cafés in the UK to make sure the industry rebounds as quickly as possible. The sector responded brilliantly at the start of the pandemic, but the re-opening phase now offers up a new challenge. We hope that ‘We hear you’ will not only provide customers with a sense of confidence, but will also relieve some of the pressure operators across the UK are facing with new guidelines and rules.”
Gavin Adair, CEO of Rosa’s Thai, said of the initiative: "We are delighted to be supporting the ‘We Hear You’ initiative. There is nothing more important than understanding how happy and safe our customers feel as they return to our restaurants. The more we pull together as an industry to balance the need for safety and hospitality, the faster we all build confidence and custom.”
The early results indicate that the industry is taking the right steps to increase hygiene standards and effectively communicate them to guests and will be particularly important in generating word of mouth about the safety of venues, with nearly all survey respondents now very likely or likely to recommend venues to family or friends,” said Karl Chessell, director of food and retail at CGA.
‘We hear you’ is a free service to all hospitality venues.
All figures are from Yumpingo’s internal guest feedback. Total responses from 4,866 customers across 168 venues, between 4-19 July 2020.