Need a way to gauge your patrons’ satisfaction? Use the 7-38-55 rule


These days, there’s an almost insatiable desire to quantify everything. Whether it’s chronological baby name trends, the most common three word combinations Pitbull uses in his songs, and everything you could possible know about the name “John Smith.” But how about your restaurant? While looking at your online reviews is one thing, nothing can be more prevalent about how people feel about your establishment than the people that went out of their way to eat at your place. One way to do so is to use Albert Merhrabian’s 7-38-55 rule.

The 7 means only 7% has to do with Verbal Liking

What you say may not mean much, but it still accounts at least a little of how your customer(s) might like, or dislike, what they just ate. Which means that the words themselves only mean very little of how they really feel.

And in a way that makes sense. Consider this: Words are all you need to make a recipe, but words wouldn’t be enough for the eating experience itself. Consider this review and this review. Both reviews might be for different restaurants, but one thing is clear: Words can’t describe their satisfaction–or dissatisfaction.

The 38 and the 55, the Vocal and the Facial Likings, means that everything else really matters

Believe it or not, no matter how obvious it might sound, it’s essentially everything else besides the words that matter. How they sound, how their facial expressions look, how happy they sound, how mad they sound, that’s all that matters.

It might all be good and done when the family of four that just paid their bill and 20% check gave a halfhearted smile just to be nice means just another satisfied customer. But that means something else. That means you cooked a meal but were too busy to do so, so they relied on you to do it better since they’re paying you to do so. However they ate something they could have cooked on their own, but hey good on you anyway right? If this happens again, make sure that you and your staff are doing your due diligence and make sure your establishment is doing its absolutely best to bring the best food that you can provide. Otherwise, you already lost the ability to stand out from other restaurants in your area.

But it’s not the catch all formula for restaurant success

However much you’d like to use this formula for everything else, Mehrabian himself said that the equation for “total liking” is only specifically determinate for feelings and attitudes, and nothing else.

Having that said, however, you have at least an idea to how to gauge your patrons’ satisfaction.