How To Manage Customer Reviews for Your Restaurant
In the era of consumer-generated content, restaurant owners can’t afford to ignore online reviews. Online reviews of restaurants and referrals are what can bring customers into your business or turn them away from dining with you. Learn more about how to get customers to keep coming back, leaving more reviews, and how to handle what customers are saying about your restaurant on the internet.
Getting Customer Reviews
Customer reviews greatly impact whether customers who found your business online will come to your restaurant or not. If you recently realized this, you might be wondering how a restaurant gets customers to give good reviews. Make a habit of chatting with diners each shift, ask them how the meal was and simply tack on, “well, if you loved your meal, we’d appreciate a review on Yelp/Google/Facebook!” This will help generate reviews on your platforms and come across more genuine.
How to Encourage Positive Reviews
Good online reviews for your business is what will bring new customers through your doors, but how do you get existing customers to speak highly of your service for the rest of the world to see? One tip is to create little signs and place them at the center of your tables. This will help get your request in front of all of the eyes of your visiting patrons. Be careful not to offer incentives on your signs. True customers will write a review out of the goodness of their heart and a love for your business without any benefits.
Additionally, if you have an email marketing list, you can also send an email to your subscribers asking for a review. Link to your restaurant’s review pages and social platforms to make it easier for anyone to access.
Stay on Top of Review Channels
Now that more of your customers are leaving reviews on your Yelp profile or Google My Business listing, you have to make sure you are able to keep up with responding to them. You probably assume Yelp is the #1 destination for reviews, but don’t overlook Facebook, OpenTable, and Google. If you set up a business profile, you can be notified whenever there is a new review.
But if that’s not possible, make a point of checking all review pages regularly so you can respond to your customers in a timely manner. Do the same with your social media channels, since people often come to those platforms to read comments from other customers.
Respond Promptly and Appropriately to Customer Reviews
Every review someone leaves your restaurant, whether it’s positive or negative, provides you with an opportunity to interact with that customer. It also allows you to leave an impression on others who read the review and your response.
As soon as you see a new review, respond as soon as possible. Social platforms, like Facebook, actually track your comment or message response time to give users a heads up on how soon you are likely to respond to their inquiry. You can even create a Google Alert for your restaurant name so you can be notified when there are new mentions of your brand on the internet. This will help you keep track of your business’s reviews a lot easier.
When responding to a customer comment or review, thank the reviewer for taking the time to leave feedback. Showing your appreciation tells that customer (and others) that you genuinely care about the customer experience. If the customer mentioned an issue or had a complaint, handle it carefully.
Handling Negative Reviews
It’s easy to get defensive when someone seems to be criticizing your restaurant, but sending a hotheaded reply will only damage your brand’s reputation further. Instead, take some time to sit on the feedback before you make your next move. In running any kind of business, you have to accept that you won’t be able to please 100% of your customers 100% of the time. You may have days where you or your staff just aren’t up to your usual stellar performance. There will always be customers who want to be unhappy and complain about your business.
The key is to not take a negative review to heart. No matter how it was packaged, this feedback was designed to help you improve your business for future customers. If someone complained about a rude server, speak directly with that employee to ensure he understands what is expected of him in terms of interacting with customers. If you keep getting complaints about him, maybe it’s time to consider letting him go.
Once you’re able to respond from a place of calm, reply to the review. Start by apologizing for the customer’s experience. Then work to remedy the situation. You could offer a free meal or a gift card so that the reviewer can have a better experience with your restaurant. If you can, plan the visit so you can personally introduce yourself and ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Making Changes to Your Business Based on Reviews
You want your restaurant to be a well oiled machine, but not every restaurant is perfect. Your customers will be the first to point out something they don’t like. For example, if you consistently get feedback that your prices are too high, consider lowering prices a little. If you’re getting a lot of complaints of menu items being unavailable, make sure your POS and inventory management software alerts you when you’re getting low on ingredients so you can reorder the ingredients before you run out of everyone’s favorite tomato bisque. Making changes like these are important and future customers will notice.
Use these tips to generate more customer reviews, respond in a timely manner, and respond appropriately. Your existing and new customers will appreciate the lengths you go to in order to keep them happy. Learn more about how you can make your restaurant stand out online.