Smashburger Optimizes The Customer Experience Across Locations

A top challenge for large retail chains and restaurant franchises is ensuring a consistent, enjoyable experience across all locations. Unified customer service, store cleanliness and product offerings all present an opportunity for merchants to succeed or fail.

Smashburger, the fast casual restaurant chain, gained a 5.5% increase in customer satisfaction across its 150-store network with a customer survey program that offered an in-depth understanding of customer sentiment and helped maximize marketing success. The program allowed Smashburger executives “to bring an incredible amount of insight and specific data to help drive performance and gain alignment with store managers on making the customer experience better,” said Jeremy Morgan, VP of Marketing and Consumer Insights for Smashburger. To date, the company has received more than two million friend impressions of positive online recommendations.

Using customer survey feedback, Smashburger determines its unique differentiators as well as which factors really matter to customers, then creates a scorecard for store managers to track progress of store performance and improvements. Best practices are produced to ensure local operators are tending to all customer wants and needs. In the near future, mobile surveys will be deployed to allow more touch points to accumulate customer feedback and relay information to local operators about the multi-unit brand experience.


Smashburger’s consumer feedback initiative recently was piloted with Empathica, a customer experience management (CEM) solution provider. The goal of the partnership is “to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of each store so we could improve consistency,” said Morgan, “and make the overall guest experience better.”

The interactive customer survey focuses on food, service, atmosphere and other vital elements. Executives measure results weekly from the 30-question survey, analyzing improvement and pain points on overall experience and customers’ likelihood to recommend the restaurant to friends and family.

“Consumers don’t care about who owns a specific store,” Morgan explained. “They just want to know that they will get the same Smashburger experience, regardless of which location they walk into across the country.  So the goal is to create one unified Smashburger: the type of employees, atmosphere, food and service elements all need to be consistent.”


A Critical Source Of Truth
Empathica and Smashburger are collaborating to empower store operators to determine the most vital areas improvement, and help them react to customer feedback more effectively.

“By nature, restaurant operators are wired to make the customer experience great,” Morgan said. “Once operators are armed with the information about what is going well, or wrong, they can attack issues and make things better.”

This prescriptive reporting strategy is tailored to each location’s unique needs and objectives, according to Gary Edwards, Chief Customer Officer of Empathica.

“Initially, we helped Smashburger determined its ‘points of differentiation,’ or what makes the brand unique, as well as what the customer expects out of the brand experience,” Edwards told Retail TouchPoints.

“We really needed to tap into the consumer psyche: For a brand that has such a unique set of products and is very well-marketed, it is a challenge to build and maintain how consumers view the brand,” Edwards said. “We’re working with Smashburger to make sure there are no miscues in operations. We’re helping executives understand environmental and behavioral cues that resonate with the customer. Multi-unit merchants like Smashburger need to pay attention to their customers, because there are a lot of options out there. It’s a critical source of truth in terms of whether merchants are creating an experience consistent with the brand and what they promised to customers.”

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