Experience Drivers – What do customers really care about?

4 min read
Jan 10, 2023 10:37:32 AM

One of the key issues of customer experience management has been making sense of all the noise.

It’s relatively easy to collect lots of views and display it in a dashboard, but it’s another issue altogether to uncover the root causes and enable teams to make effective decisions.  

You have to ask the right questions to make guest experience management work. Based on years of experience and data we have been able to understand the key things that have an impact on guest experience. 

Since May 2022, we’ve expanded on this understanding by tracking those experience drivers in a structured way. We can now use our 1-Minute Smart Surveys to immediately uncover the ‘why’ behind guest experience reviews in a repeatable and benchmarkable format.

Yumpingo Smart Surveys

These root causes of customer satisfaction are turned into Smart Actions so you know exactly when and where to make improvements or find opportunities to celebrate teams. 

For months our clients have been using this improved method to drive decisions across their businesses down to a venue, dish or shift level to increase guest satisfaction, revenues and profits.

We’ve collected a comprehensive amount of experience drivers, so let’s see what we can learn about what guests are experiencing across a wide array of brands.


Are customers becoming more accepting of the pinch?

Inflationary pressures have had a massive impact on the hospitality industry and some of the experience drivers allow us to track how customers feel about these changes. 

We’ve been tracking sentiment on menu choice (as menus are streamlined), meal costs (as prices increase) and portion size (as portions are managed to reduce costs). 

Over 2022 the impact of the inflationary pressures trended in the opposite way we had expected. All these concerns were high at the start of 2022 but over time customers appear to have become more accepting of these factors. 

It doesn’t mean they are happy about them, but they suggest that people are going out to restaurants with an understanding of the new circumstances.

Experience Drivers Factors


Deliver great food… fast

Collecting the experience drivers together in topics these are the factors that matter most to unhappy guests. 

Experience Drivers - Factors

Customers are very impacted by food and service when they don’t meet expectations. They are more forgiving of the comfort and ambiance. This is interesting given the popularity of food trucks and pop-ups, which provide fast food with little expectation of comfort and ambiance. 

Outside of the topics here are the 7 key drivers of negative guest experiences:

1. Disliked a dish

2. Too long to get food

3. Food didn’t meet expectations

4. Too long to get drinks

5. Slow to take orders

6. Disliked a drink

7. Staff were not attentive

The taste of the food is paramount and it’s not a case of customers expecting superior food, it’s customers expecting the restaurants to deliver the experience they promised. This is why consistency of food is one of the key things Yumpingo enables restaurants to manage so that dishes are served to brand standards across every location and shift.

We can look deeper into the second largest issue, the speed of service, to see what really impacts customers. Delivering food to guests as quickly as they expected is a significant factor (very few people complained about getting their food too early). It suggests that if you are going to concentrate on a single speed of service step this is the one to get right.

Experience Drivers


How the US and UK are not quite the same

The UK and US share the same top 7 concerns, but the experiences and expectations of the two nations vary a great deal after that. 

For the US, slow to take payments is the 8th biggest issue, whereas it is only 17th in the UK. There is a big difference in expectations with UK customers normally asking the service team for the bill, but US customers usually expect the bill to be provided, which is a tricky thing for servers to anticipate correctly. 

Another factor is that the UK has adopted more efficient paying methods such as tap and go and order and pay to a greater extent so the process is usually much faster for guests.

In the UK, issues with small portions is the 8th biggest issue (only 12th in the US) and too expensive is 9th (US 17th). Although the supply cost issues are happening globally, they are definitely having more impact in the UK and the customers are recognising this as a problem.

We’ve also been tracking the effectiveness of ordering systems after the significant disruption in this area caused by Covid, and in the UK the ordering systems remain a significant issue at 14th (whereas it’s a minor complaint in the US 30). Ordering systems and how they integrate with the guest experience are improving rapidly. Going from the 8th biggest issue globally in May 2022 to the 18th by November.

Experience Drivers - Ordering System



It’s interesting to look at the national or global trends, but there is a huge variation by service style, brand and even by venue, so what your guests will be experiencing could be very different from what we’ve shown here. 

What is important is that, by using the experience drivers we’ve significantly improved the way businesses can manage all the key parts of the service to deliver great experiences every time.

The Restaurant Group - Testimonial

Get in touch with us to find out how we can help you. 


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