In this article, you’re going to learn about the power of short surveys.

I know it sounds counterintuitive—ask fewer questions, get better results—but it works, and by the end of this article, you’ll see why.

You’ll also learn:

  • Why starting with traditional surveys no longer works
  • What a perfect survey looks like
  • Why your restaurant should never stop collecting feedback
  • And how to start using short surveys in your business

Let’s dive in.

5 Problems with Traditional Surveys

To put it bluntly, starting with long surveys doesn’t work—think about it: when was the last time you took a ten-question survey?

They’re annoying, take forever, and don’t actually give your business the information it needs to take actionable steps to fix your customers’ problems.

Let’s look at 5 problems with traditional surveys.

1. They get a low response rate.

Long surveys suffer from meager response rates, which can be as low as 0.1%—customers find them time-consuming and unrewarding.

This low engagement means that only a tiny fraction of customers provide feedback–usually from the extremes, which does not represent the regular customer base.

2. They create non-representative feedback.

The few customers who do respond to lengthy surveys are often motivated by incentives like discounts or free items or those who had particularly strong positive or negative experiences.

These outliers give you feedback that doesn’t necessarily reflect the feelings or experience of your average customer.

3. Customers suffer from survey fatigue and create skewed data.

Long surveys lead to “survey fatigue,” meaning respondents get bored, lose interest, and do what’s called “straight-lining”—hitting random buttons to reach the end of the survey quickly.

Straight-lining results in unthoughtful and unhelpful answers that don’t mirror the customer’s actual opinions or experiences.

4. They collect mostly irrelevant information.

Lengthy surveys tend to cover every conceivable aspect of the customer experience, from the quality of the food to the cleanliness of the bathrooms.

Logically, this approach should tell you about their entire experience, but it doesn’t work—most customers either don’t notice the things you’re asking about (“How were the napkins?”) or they don’t care.

Consumers who do feel compelled to fill out a survey have one, maybe two, things they’d like to talk about.

Asking about irrelevant details can frustrate them and dilute the usefulness of the feedback on critical issues.

5. Accessing and participating in surveys is a hassle.

It’s wild how difficult some restaurants make it to even start their surveys.

For example, asking customers to type in a tiny 12-digit code to some website found on the bottom of their receipt.

This approach almost outright discourages customers from participating in guest feedback when much simpler and more accessible methods are available—for example, QR codes and SMS.

Now that we understand why starting with long surveys doesn’t get you the information you’re looking for, let’s explore a guest feedback approach that actually yields actionable data, boosts 5-star reviews, and enhances profits.

The Anatomy of the Perfect Survey and Why It Works

So, what’s the secret to the perfect survey?

When customers feel like sharing their experience, they want to get straight to the point, which makes it our job to create a scenario that makes this possible.

The best way to accomplish this is with 2-question surveys.

Question #1

The first question is always the same: “How was your experience?”

No beating around the bush.

Straight to the point.

How they answer will determine what is asked for question #2.

Question #2

If customers love their experience, we don’t ask them a follow-up question.

Instead, they’re prompted to take revenue-boosting actions, like leaving a review, buying a gift card, or scheduling a catering order.

If customers respond with anything negative, the second question asks them to share their experience in a free response box.

A graphic showing the Ovation survey flow.

That way, customers can say precisely what’s on their mind rather than having to find a specific question on a long survey that relates to their problem.

That’s it.

The survey is complete—it’s that simple.

How you use the feedback is up to you.

Steps after question #2

With the Ovation app, managers can use mobile or desktop devices to respond to dissatisfied guests in real-time using AI and templates built on industry best practices.

For example, if food took too long or was cold, managers can instantly send customers a free appetizer for their next visit as an apology.

Customers love 2-question surveys because they feel like they’re heard, and a negative visit is suddenly flipped into a positive one, making customers much more likely to return.

Short surveys also open customers up to the idea of answering more specific questions you’d typically find on long surveys.

For example, Ovation partners can send a custom follow-up survey within 24 hours of a guest’s visit. Restaurant operators found that customers, appreciating the initial 2-question survey, are significantly more likely to respond to this more targeted follow-up.

This is a great opportunity to ask pointed questions about LTOs, operations, fixed menu items, or anything you’d like to learn from your customers before making crucial business decisions.

If you’d like to learn more about customers fulfilling custom surveys, check out our Friendly’s case study, who saw 5X more long surveys fulfilled once partnering with Ovation.

Getting just as many answers without as many questions.

2-question surveys can help restaurants see up to 18x more customer feedback, but the data goes beyond what individual customers say.

Ovation collects all of your private feedback and public reviews and, using AI compiles it into one easy-to-read dashboard so you know what to fix and where with data on 34 restaurant-specific categories.

Portions of Ovation's reporting, specifically the Insights feature.

This comprehensive approach not only highlights areas of immediate concern but also identifies emerging trends and opportunities for improvement, allowing you to make informed decisions that customers will love and help your business thrive.

Why Your Restaurant Needs to Collect Guest Feedback

Operating without guest feedback is like sailing across the Pacific without a compass—not a good idea.

You need your customers’ opinions to guide your business decisions, enabling you to better meet their needs and exceed their expectations.

Using guest feedback, you can:

  1. Improve Service and Quality: Feedback can highlight specific areas needing improvement, such as food quality, service speed, and staff behavior, helping you make changes that directly address customer concerns.
  2. Increase Repeat Business: The average retention rate for restaurants is 30%. If you do nothing, 70% of guests don’t come back! Guest feedback tells you why they aren’t returning, but with that same feedback, you can build a marketing database and create marketing strategies that get them back through the door.
  3. Resolve Issues Quickly: Immediate feedback, especially when negative, can alert management to issues that can be resolved quickly before affecting more customers, preserving your restaurant’s reputation.
  4. Drive Business Decisions: Solid feedback isn’t just helpful—it’s a goldmine of insights. It helps restaurants make smart calls on everything from tweaking the menu to refining marketing strategies.
  5. Enhance Customer Satisfaction: When restaurants really tune into what their guests are experiencing and expect, they can adjust their services to better meet those needs. This attention to detail often leads to happier, repeat customers.

Guests just want to feel heard, and by actually listening, you differentiate yourself from your competitors. Customers are consistently surprised to hear back from a real person after completing a survey, and they’ll love you for it.

How to Send 2-Question Surveys to Your Customers

You can send 2-question surveys to your customers yourself—but we suggest partnering with Ovation to take advantage of added benefits like consolidated easy-to-read customer data insights, custom question follow-up surveys, and real-time direct manager-to-customer connections.

Customers can easily access the surveys through QR codes displayed for in-store dining or placing them on cards inside takeout bags for to-go orders.

By simply scanning these convenient QR codes, customers receive an SMS link to the 2-question survey, and they can complete the survey from their mobile device.

Two phones representing the two ways that guests are prompted to leave feedback.

Ovation also seamlessly integrates with over 50 of the most popular POS, online ordering, and loyalty systems—allowing you to collect valuable customer feedback at scale while managing it effortlessly, requiring less than a minute per guest interaction.

Schedule a Demo With Ovation Today

If you’re ready to take customer feedback seriously, join the thousands of restaurants already using Ovation to send powerful 2-question surveys to their customers every day.

After partnering with Ovation, you’ll see…

More reviews,

More feedback,

And more revenue.

What are you waiting for?

Sign up, and you’ll see why Ovation is consistently voted the #1 guest feedback solution for restaurants.

Schedule a demo today!