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"Thank You" Boosts Restaurant Patronage by Up to 57 Percent

Update Date: Dec 30, 2014 02:38 AM EST

A simple "thank you" can make or break a business, according to a new study.

After asking restaurant customers to fill out satisfaction surveys, researchers found that receiving acknowledgement of their comments increased restaurant patronage by more than 50 percent, according to a new study.

However, the simple gesture of thanking customers was just as effective as acknowledgements, according to the study. Thanking customers instead of acknowledgements like gift certificate and guaranteed reservations were also more economical for businesses.

"Sweetening the pot with rewards really didn't matter," lead researcher Clay Voorhees, Michigan State University associate professor of marketing, said in a news release. "These findings suggest that simple, sincere gestures are enough to drive feelings of gratitude among consumers."

The study showed that sending a thank-you email within a week of completing the online satisfaction survey during the 12-month study increased the number of repeat visit by 50 percent for men and 57 percent for women.

"In the restaurant industry, where 5 percent is a big deal, 50 percent blew our minds," Voorhees added. "So it wasn't just that they came back, but that they came back and brought more people with them."

Researchers noted that the increase in party size was significantly higher among women, rising 79 percent compared to 42 percent increase among men.

Researchers also found that sending an immediate automated response after customers completed the survey did not help increase restaurant patronage.

"Delaying the acknowledgement is critical to ensure it comes across as being more personal and sincere," Voorhees concluded.

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