As people start spending more time online, it’s no surprise that for restaurants, online reviews are becoming increasingly important. Diners are using reviews to decide where they’re going to eat, and if they have a bad experience, you can bet that more than just their friends will hear about it.
In a less connected world, a diner with a negative experience could only contact so many people about it, now they have a platform to broadcast their grievances to the entire world. Depending on how you deal with these reviews, the fact diners have more influence over others opinions can either have a positive effect or a negative impact on your restaurant.
Apps like Yelp, MenuMania and Foursquare allow customers to ‘check-in’ to establishments and leave notes on what they enjoyed and what they didn’t about their meals and the service. The next time someone is looking on these apps (or even searching for your restaurant through Google) these reviews pop up and let potential customers know what they’re in for.
If your staff are always cheerful and on to it, and your food is always exceptional you probably don’t need to worry. But in the hospitality industry, we all know how easy it is to have a bad day, or to inadvertently step on a diners toes to such a degree that nothing can convince them to leave happy.
That’s why these sites and apps have the option for businesses to manage their presence. This means you can thank customers for good reviews so they feel appreciated. It also means you can respond to bad reviews – perhaps the complaint wasn’t handled appropriately in-store, or wasn’t brought up at all. It’s your second chance to win over a customer, which is a valuable opportunity.
So make the most of it
- Look into Foursquare and Yelp and ‘claim’ your business.
- Keep an eye on the reviews – for the positives, a simple thanks will make the customer feel appreciated. For the negative, try and establish what happened to prevent it happening again, apologize and maybe offer the customer something to make up for the inconvenience.
- Don’t get too stressed about negative reviews. Studies show that if the response is entirely positive, people are less likely to trust them. The presence of a negative review gives more weight to the positives!
- Don’t be tempted to post fake reviews. These sites have ways of detecting this, which just ends up making your restaurant look bad.
- If a review is overly insulting to a member of staff, or if it is objectively offensive or irrelevant you can request the site to have it removed. You can find out more about this here.
How does your restaurant manage it’s reputation online? Let us know in the comments!