NPS Blog

Some surprising ways OpenTable makes the dining experience more satisfying

OpenTable's Leela SrinivasanFinding a good restaurant in an unfamiliar city was no small feat 20 years ago. At the time, it seemed easy: All I needed to do was pick up a copy of the city’s Zagat Restaurant Guide, thumb through different cuisine styles, restaurant features and neighborhoods, and browse ratings. It was a fun way to relax on a plane, until it came time to call the restaurants.

If the first restaurant on your list didn’t have space for you, you’d call the next one, and so on, until you found a place that could accommodate your group. These days, I would never dream of wasting so much time on the phone trying to get a restaurant reservation. I don’t have to. A slew of restaurant reservation websites and mobile apps allow you to make a reservation with a few clicks, without having to talk to anyone.

One of the most popular sites is OpenTable. The company seats about 16 million diners every month. And while it’s best known for its reservation service, the company also offers customer ratings and rewards for diners. OpenTable is also trying to bring efficiency to the end of the meal with a mobile payment tool that lets diners pay through their phones, allowing them to get to their movies or concerts sooner.

Net Promoter System podcastI recently talked to Leela Srinivasan, vice president of restaurant and product marketing at OpenTable, on the Net Promoter System Podcast. She joined OpenTable just over a year ago after several years at LinkedIn, and has helped steer many of the changes going on at the company.

OpenTable’s surprising success can be attributed, in part, to its focus on restaurant owners and managers. The company tries to earn managers’ trust by arming them with information they need to track and assign their table inventory, increase repeat business and address customer complaints quickly. To compensate the company for its impact on the restaurants’ bottom line, they pay a fee for each diner OpenTable helps them seat.

It’s no secret that running a restaurant is very challenging. Managers must oversee staffing levels, marketing efforts and ingredient supplies and work with chefs on food quality. Margins are often tight, and the added cost of a marketing tool isn’t always welcome.

Customer feedback has been critical to helping OpenTable hone its products and build relationships with restaurant managers, Leela says. In addition to the Net Promoter Score and social media listening tools, the company regularly consults with a customer advisory council to learn how it can improve its services.

Whether you’re a foodie or a techie, I think you’ll enjoy learning more about this company that makes our lives just a little easier. You can listen to my conversation with Leela on the Net Promoter System Podcast. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or listen to this episode through the player below. Click here to browse more Net Promoter System podcasts.

Subscribe to the Net Promoter System podcast on iTunes

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