Silver Diner carries on the great American diner tradition with iconic building styles, classic diner fare and a guarantee of “customer service with a smile, food 100% right, and restaurant sparkling clean”. In their quest to recreate the classic American diner, the founders of Silver Diner spent a year on the road visiting more than 500 diners before distilling the experience into their first location in Rockville, MD, in 1989.
But how does a classic American diner chain stay true to its traditional roots while staying abreast of market changes? Customer feedback forms are a tried and trusted way of finding out if service is up to standard and that the menu items are what the public wants. For Silver Diner, with 17 locations, more than four million guests annually, and about 10,000 items of feedback a year, staying on top of comments became an overwhelming task. The sheer volume made it impossible to report accurately on trends in customer requests, to fix recurring issues, or to follow up on complaints.
For some years, Silver Diner had used Issuetrak software to manage help desk and issue tracking requests from its 1,500 Silver Diner associates and managers. When corporate executives asked the IT department to come up with a solution that would improve the tracking and handling of customer comments, the answer was already on board.
Given the workflow nature of processing customer service comments, the IT department proposed extending the Issuetrak implementation. “It had everything we were looking for, was pretty simple to use, and it fit our budget, with the added bonus that we could host the customer comments solution in-house,” said the senior IT administrator.
Key to Silver Diner’s extended implementation was the ability to assign issues and accountability to designated individuals and departments for resolution. Working closely with company managers, the IT department re-configured the help desk solution to accommodate customer service and support issues. It was an easy and rapid process for the IT team to custom-tailor fields and business rules to ensure that the organization collects the right information and that every customer comment goes through a specific process.
The Personal Touch
At the same time, Silver Diner hired a third-party call center to enter details of all customer service comments and complaints. The software automatically assigns and alerts the general manager at each named restaurant to follow up with a personal call to that customer within a specified timeframe.
Each action is noted in Issuetrak, so executives know the manager attempted a call or has been able to close the issue. After three unsuccessful tries to reach the customer, the manager notes that in the software and the issue is closed.
In addition to customer service actions, Silver Diner also uses Issuetrak to keep up with the many fundraising requests it receives from charitable and other organizations.
Issuetrak’s software has enabled Silver Diner to use solid, current information to speed its decision-making, as well as make improvements on a macro level in areas like training, promotion or hiring. Executives can run reports as often as they want, view open issues by multiple categories, and see a consolidated monthly report based on findings.
“It takes about five minutes to set up a query and the fields for a new type of report and then managers can run them in seconds,” commented the IT administrator. For example, after a menu update, managers can review comments to make sure they are in tune with customer preferences. This has enabled Silver Diner to introduce some decidedly modern twists to its classic menu, including lactose-free, dairy free and gluten-free options. Quinoa waffles, anyone?
“Having a tool like Issuetrak helps us live up to our 110% brand promise by letting customers know that their voice has been heard and their issues dealt with,” added the IT administrator. “And Issuetrak’s own customer service has been phenomenal. They’re friendly, knowledgeable and give me an answer quickly – sometimes within minutes.”