Ways to Handle Feedback Like a Pro In Restaurant Business
In today’s digital world, online reviews are make-or-break for restaurants and hospitality businesses. With review sites like Yelp and Google Business Profiles, customers have immense influence over a restaurant’s reputation and success. According to a BrightLocal consumer survey, 91% of diners read online reviews before choosing a restaurant. Moreover, 88% trust these reviews as much as personal recommendations. It’s clear that effectively managing your online reputation is crucial for any dining establishment.
This article will discuss the importance of online reviews, how to monitor and respond to feedback, handling negative reviews gracefully, and promoting your restaurant’s reputation. By following these best practices, you can leverage reviews to improve your brand image, draw in more customers, and build a loyal clientele. Let’s get started!
The Growing Importance of Online Reviews
Online reviews have become a decisive factor for today’s on-the-go dining choices. Reading reviews on smartphones is now an integral part of the restaurant selection process. This trend is especially prevalent among millennial and Gen Z consumers—age groups that make up a significant portion of the dining-out market.
Positive reviews bring visibility as well as business. High online ratings often equate to full reservation books. For example, a Harvard Business School study found that for independent restaurants, a one-star increase on Yelp led to a 5-9 percent increase in revenues. Besides attracting new customers, good reviews also make existing patrons visit more frequently.
On the flip side, negative reviews can be detrimental if adequate steps are not taken. Bad press on influential sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor often means lost reservations and a tarnished local reputation. How you respond to such feedback determines whether dissatisfied customers return. Handled well, a negative review presents an opportunity to improve. Handled poorly, it could snowball into a PR crisis.
Monitoring and Responding to Reviews
Actively monitoring online reviews is the first step in reputation management. Here are some tips:
- Set up Google Alerts for your restaurant’s name as well as relevant keywords. This will email notifications whenever Google indexes new reviews or online mentions.
- Check major review platforms regularly. Yelp, Facebook, and Google Business Profiles tend to have the widest reach.
- Don’t ignore review sites like TripAdvisor, Opentable, Zagat, etc. Niche sites matter for certain demographics.
- Seek feedback across social media, especially Instagram and Twitter which have become popular review forums.
- Encourage customers to post on multiple platforms through email outreach and social media prompts.
Once you know what customers are saying, timely responses are vital—to both positive and negative reviews. Promptly replying shows you actively engage with feedback and care about providing good experiences.
For positive reviews, simple gestures like thanking the customer publicly go a long way. You could offer a special discount or free sample on their next visit. This rewards reviewers’ time and makes them more likely to visit and post again.
For negative reviews, apologize sincerely for the dissatisfaction caused. Acknowledge their grievances without getting defensive. For example, “We’re very sorry your experience did not meet expectations. Your feedback helps us identify areas for improvement.” If the issues mentioned seem valid, assure that measures will be taken. Then follow up offline with personalized contact.
Handing Negative Reviews Gracefully
While positive reviews are great for business, negative feedback provides valuable lessons. How restaurant owners address criticism separates the 5-star establishments from the rest. Here are tips on turning bad reviews into opportunities for improvement:
Stay Calm and Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions
The first instinct upon reading unfair criticism is often to become angry and defensive. However, combative responses rarely resolve anything. They end up validating customers’ negative impressions. You may even get labeled as hostile by reviewers.
Instead of reacting instantly, pause and digest the feedback. Then formulate an empathetic response outlining how you plan to rectify issues. This constructive approach makes reviewers feel heard and appreciated.
Never Delete or Suppress Negative Reviews
Some businesses get tempted to hide damaging reviews by having them taken down or using shady reputation management firms. This unethical practice almost always backfires. Aggrieved customers can easily repost their criticisms with even more vengeance.
You’re better off letting the negative review stay. Displaying transparency, responding politely, and taking corrective actions often mitigates the fallout. If the criticisms seem excessively harsh, your community of happy customers can also help counter the bad review with their own positive experiences.
Turn Complainers into Fans
A popular customer service tactic is to turn detractors into promoters. When someone posts a negative review, invite them to personally contact you. Then offer an enticing incentive like a free meal, gift card, or special discount to give you a second shot. There’s a good chance they’ll take you up on this offer.
If they revisit and have an excellent time, request for an updated review. Many will happily edit their original posts or leave new positive feedback. With some effort, naysayers can become vocal advocates.
Learn from Feedback and Improve
Every bad review presents a lesson to providing better service. What issues do customers repeatedly cite? What employee behaviors or corporate policies rankle them? Once you identify problem areas, address them systematically.
Perhaps staff needs more training is a certain process. Or the menu could highlight more vegetarian options. Updating flawed processes and policies will steadily improve customer satisfaction. Thank critics in your responses for helping make your restaurant better.
Don’t Obsess Over the Occasional Negative Review
In the hospitality industry, the adage “the customer is always right” does not always apply. Realistically, you cannot please every single diner or critique all the time. Some criticism will be biased, unfair, or demanding beyond reason.
While all feedback merits consideration, don’t obsess endlessly over the odd negative review. Focus your energy on delighting the silent majority who are perfectly happy. If your food and service quality are generally excellent, positive reviews will keep flowing in. minor criticisms and complainers will not matter much.
Promoting Your Reputation
While responsibly managing your online image is crucial, proactively boosting your reputation is equally important. Some effective tactics include:
Showcase Happy Customers
Collect positive review excerpts, great photos, or video testimonials and display them prominently on your website, social media, and restaurant interior. Prospective diners passing by or visiting your online profiles immediately see you have happy customers and peer validation.
Proactively Request Reviews
Don’t leave reviews solely to chance. Greet guests upon arrival and end meals by requesting they post feedback online or on review sites if they were satisfied. This gentle reminder often motivates diners to leave positive reviews. Offer business cards with review site links and social media handles.
Loyalty programs that offer special perks for writing reviews incentivize fans. For example, your app could credit $5 or a free dessert if someone shares a review on Google, Facebook, or Yelp. Making reviews profitable for reviewers means more get posted.
Focus on Amazing Service
Ultimately, a stand-out online reputation stems from providing incredible dining experiences. Consistently impress customers through food quality, excellent services, attention to detail, memorable atmosphere, and friendly staff. Delighted guests will enthusiastically spread the word through reviews.
Online reviews significantly influence a restaurant’s success in today’s digital age. Monitoring your online reputation and properly responding to feedback protects your brand while improving customer satisfaction. While negative reviews can’t be avoided, handle them with grace and tact. Leverage constructive feedback to offer better service. With dedication to amazing experiences, your online ratings and reviews will stand out in diners’ minds when they are looking for their next great meal. Our digital marketing agency dedicated for restaurant can help you out with cost-effective services of online reputation management.