Jeffrey Saltzman's Blog

Enhancing Organizational Performance

Cafeteria Survey

with one comment

[tweetmeme source=”jeffreysaltzman”]

Say you wanted to do a customer survey for a cafeteria. How would you go about deciding what questions to ask and how to ask them? The cafeteria could be in a school, an office building, a public facility such as a zoo or park, or it could be Horn & Hardart reincarnated. Let’s make the assumption that you are doing the survey in order to help the cafeteria actually improve. In order to accomplish that you need to ask tough questions, questions which will yield mid-range scores against which you can improve and track your progress. In addition you want to ask questions which are related to the outcomes of interest to your cafeteria, such as customer repurchase intentions.

First off you need to understand or define the goals of the survey. It may be obvious or you may need to meet with senior management or the sponsor of the survey and probe about what they view as the most important goals for the survey. It could be issues regarding the quality of the food, the speed of the  service, perceived value, the popularity of the food choice etc. The list quickly becomes very long and hence understanding the goals of the effort are critical to keeping the survey within a manageable length for the customer to complete. (The shorter the better with customer surveys).

Second, great insight can be achieved by doing a few focus groups of various types of customers prior to writing the survey. Doesn’t have to be anything fancy, one-way mirrors and recordings are not necessary. Just have a group of customer sit down, 6-10 at a time, and talk to you about their experiences at your cafeteria. Ask them to list out what they like about the cafeteria and what they don’t like about it and then go back and discuss the list as a group. (Reward them for their efforts.) It will help you zero in on what you should be asking about very quickly. If you have different customer segments, such as a lunch crowd, or a breakfast crowd etc. they could be looking for different things, or have different experiences at your cafeteria, so make sure you run focus groups for these different segments.

An overriding principle if you want people to actually fill out your survey – make it easy for them. Simple questions, simple anchored scales, (I like 5-point scales with an escape), short number of items that focus on the goals and lead to action, simple administration. If you have non-English speakers as customers provide the survey in translated formats. Given the likely volume of customers for a cafeteria, you need not have one common survey used across all customers, but can have multiple short versions allowing you to collect information on a larger number of topics than would be possible otherwise. The survey versions can be linked by utilizing an in-common outcome question.

Broadly, the types of questions you can ask about falls into 4 main buckets.

  1. Transactional questions,
  2. Loyalty questions/Outcome questions,
  3. Brand questions,
  4. Demographics.

Transactional questions: Transactional questions ask about the experience you had while visiting the cafeteria. The transaction could be the current visit, or you could ask the customer to think about their last few visits if you know they frequent the cafeteria often. Sample transactional questions include:

Do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements: SCALE: Strongly agree, agree, neither agree or disagree, disagree, strongly disagree

    • Food
      • The food I received was what I ordered.
      • My food was prepared how I requested.
      • My food tasted good.
      • My food was fresh.
      • My food was a good value for the price.
    • Service/Staff
      • The time I spent waiting in line to place my order was reasonable.
      • Cafeteria staff were pleasant and greeted me as I entered the cafeteria.
      • I received my food order quickly.
      • The cashier thanked me for my business.
    • Environment
      • The location of the cafeteria made it easy to get to.
      • The signs posted in the cafeteria were clear and understandable.
      • I easily found a seat in the cafeteria.
      • The cafeteria was clean and free of unpleasant odors.

Loyalty questions/Outcome questions: These type of questions get at the “feelings” that the customer is left with, after they experience the “transactions”. Did they enjoy the experience, would they come again, would they suggest to others that they visit etc.

  •  Do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements: SCALE: Strongly agree, agree, neither agree or disagree, disagree, strongly disagree
    • Overall, I enjoyed my meal today.
    • I would recommend this cafeteria to others.
    • If the opportunity arises, I would purchase another meal from this cafeteria.

Brand Questions: Brand questions get at the perception of the cafeteria, especially given the other options available to the consumer. They should measure what “concepts” the cafeteria is aiming for. It is a gathering place, a place for fast food on the go, a place for healthy food at a reasonable price, etc?

  • Do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements: SCALE: Strongly agree, agree, neither agree or disagree, disagree, strongly disagree
    • The cafeteria is a good choice for a quick, on-the-go breakfast.
    • Overall, this cafeteria provides healthy meals at a reasonable price.
    • This cafeteria is a good place to relax with friends over lunch

Demographic Questions: These questions allow you to segment your customer population into groups that may have different opinions about the cafeteria. For instance, if in a school do older kids feel differently about the food choices from younger kids, or does the breakfast crowd feel differently from the lunch group etc.

  • How many times have you previously visited the cafeteria in the last year?
    • This is my first visit
    • 1-5 times
    • 6-10 times
    • More than 10 times
  • Are you:
    • Male
    • Female
  • Do you typically visit the cafeteria for: Check all that apply.
    • Breakfast
    • Lunch
    • Dinner
    • Snacks

These suggestions for a cafeteria survey are not meant to be exhaustive and there are certainly other topic areas that you could ask about. For those of you who are learning the ropes of putting together a good survey, this is meant to simply point you in the right direction. Analysis, Reporting and Taking Action on the information obtained from the survey will be covered separately.

© 2011 by Jeffrey M. Saltzman. All rights reserved.

Visit OV:

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. very helpful information. thank you.


    November 9, 2016 at 10:09 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: