In today’s competitive food service industry, monitoring restaurant ratings and reviews has become an essential strategy for businesses seeking to thrive and grow.
With the proliferation of online platforms such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, and Facebook, consumers have more access than ever before to share their dining experiences and opinions.
These reviews and ratings have a significant influence on consumer decision-making and can make or break a restaurant’s reputation.
By actively monitoring ratings and reviews, restaurant owners and managers can gain valuable insights into guest preferences, identify areas for improvement, and capitalize on their strengths.
This in turn helps them craft a remarkable dining experience that not only delights existing guests but also attracts new patrons, ultimately leading to a more prosperous and sustainable business.
Ratings websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, and Facebook receive millions upon millions of visitors every single day, and these sites can be one of your restaurant’s most powerful and relatively inexpensive marketing commodities.
Obviously, positive reviews are a great thing, while negative guest reviews are somewhat of a bad thing. The more positive ratings you receive, the more consumers will trust that they will have a pleasurable experience at your establishment. But the truth comes in the research that has been done around these ratings sites and the potential effects that restaurant ratings have on your overall bottom line.
Why You Should Care About Guest Ratings and Reviews
There have been many studies about the effects of positive guest ratings and reviews. As you read through the statistics below from websitebuilder.org, think about current foot traffic and revenue at your establishment and you’ll further realize how important and valuable positive user ratings can be.
Among the data, here are some interesting facts they found:
- 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
- 61% of consumers have read online restaurant reviews, more than any other type of business.
- 53% of 18-to-34-year-olds report that online reviews factor into their dining decisions, as do 47% of frequent full-service customers.
- 34% of diners choose a restaurant based on information provided on a peer review website.
- Consumers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews.
It’s plain to see that receiving more and better guest ratings is key to growing your customer base, increasing revenue, and driving down costs – and this is expected to remain the case for quite some time.
Therefore, you should be doing everything you can and being proactive in improving your ratings across all the major review sites.
There will always be the occasional poor review, that’s just the nature of the internet. Remember that dealing with poor guest reviews the right way can actually have a positive impact on business. If the rating is bad, you can apologize, offer to resolve any issues, and give them the incentive to come back and re-rate your restaurant. More on this is below.
At the end of the day, you should always be doing your best to provide quality service, excellent food and drink, and the best atmosphere possible. If you do that, good ratings and reviews will naturally follow. This will turn your restaurant’s pages on the ratings websites into a revenue generator, and one of the most powerful marketing tools in your arsenal.
Responding to Negative Guest Ratings and Reviews
You work hard to keep your restaurant business alive and growing. Part of that effort includes monitoring and improving your restaurant’s online ratings and reviews. All of this energy and determination makes it so much more upsetting when you visit one of the popular online ratings websites to see a scathing, negative review.
Your first inclination will most likely be to fire back with a defensive message. But doing so could have long-lasting damaging effects on the way the public views you and your business. Instead of quickly defending yourself and risking the appearance of not caring about your patrons, take a deep breath, relax, and respond with TACT.
“Bad reviews actually give you power… they give you an opportunity to use your brand voice to right your wrongs and to deliver stellar customer service – and to do it publicly, where potential customers can see it.” – Tara Johnson, Journalist
Responding to Negative Reviews with TACT
TACT is an acronym that stands for:
- Thank them
- Continue the conversation offline
- Treat them
First, thank the guest for bringing the issue to your attention. As Jay Baer says, “embrace that feedback as a gift.” Visualize not only the person complaining but other guests who may have had the same experience but have not left a review online.
Next, you need to apologize, not necessarily for the way things are, but for the way things affected that guest’s experience at your location.
Have the mindset of owning the issue that is being raised to you. Recognize that the issue is that person’s perception, and if you want to be seen as valuing your guests, then you should recognize that their perception has reality in their eyes. Apologize either for the condition or for their experience as a result of the condition.
The next important piece of the TACT flow is to continue the conversation offline. Encourage the guest to dialog with you, but in a non-public forum. Make sure in your response, that it is apparent to the public that you wish to continue the conversation with the guest. This applies that you are going to do your best to make things right for the guest.
Finally, treat the guest to a return visit. You want the guest to come back through your doors and experience your restaurant in a different, more positive way. Perhaps it was simply an “off” day for your staff, or you may have been out of an important food item, or there was some sort of functional challenge at your location on that particular day. Whatever the issue, you want the guest to come back and experience things the way you expect them to be.
It is important to recognize that you are providing an incentive to persuade them to come back to your restaurant, not to change their review.
As an example, let’s say you found a negative review from a guest whose order came to the table incorrectly. A great TACT response would be:
Hi John, thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. I want to personally apologize for the negative experience at our restaurant. Please view my private message, or call me at 555-1212 at your earliest convenience. I’d like to make sure we not only make things right but that we exceed your expectations. Warm regards, Allen Graves, Restaurant Manager.
Even the best restaurants will eventually run into a negative online review. It’s simply the nature of the internet. Just remember that it is how you respond to the negative reviews that can either make you look like you genuinely care about your guests, or that you wouldn’t care if they ever came back.
Responding to Positive Ratings in TIME
It is also important to respond to the positive ratings and reviews your business is receiving online.
Many business owners will look at a positive review and think it is fine to simply leave it alone. It is, after all, a positive. But responding to positive reviews can do wonders for the reputation of your business, and the loyalty of your guests.
When guests and potential patrons see you in a public forum acknowledging the negative and positive reviews, it sends a clear message that you are engaged with, and care deeply about all of your guests. You just have to make sure you respond in T.I.M.E.
TIME is an acronym that stands for:
- Thank them
- Identify your business or location
- Market (just a little)
- Engage them
Let’s take a quick look at each bullet point.
First, you want to thank the reviewer for their patronage, their loyalty, and for taking the time to leave their rating and/or review. Doing so will satisfy the reviewer and will encourage others to leave positive reviews.
Next, you want to identify your business or location. Remember that this is in a public forum where people frequently scroll through to find a certain type of restaurant, or an establishment in a specific area or neighborhood. This is an opportunity for you to let potential guests know that your business is relevant to them. For instance, you might say, “Thank you Paul for providing this great review. As one of the premier restaurants in the Garden District, we would like to…” or you might say, “As San Francisco’s oldest flower shop, we would like to…”
In a related way, you should take the opportunity to market to them…just a little. You don’t want to post anything that is way too salesy or promotional, but you do want to take the opportunity to do something that can show a value proposition or some compelling value to persuade guests to come into your restaurant.
Finally, you want to end with a call to action or a request for them to somehow become engaged. This could be asking them a question, inviting them to come back to the location, or asking them to share it with their friends. You want to stimulate and activate them a little further at this point.
Remember, these guests are already our advocates because they’ve taken the time to write a review and post it online. You just want to coddle that a little bit and allow that goodwill to carry you a little bit further.
As an example, perhaps you received a 5-star rating from a recent guest. Here’s how you could respond using TIME.
“Thank you for your 5-star review and for taking the time to share your experience. As the premier coffee shop in the downtown area, we’re always excited to hear how great our coffee is. We also offer complimentary cheesecake for birthdays! We hope to see you again soon.”
Remember that leaving a positive review alone without leaving a response isn’t going to break your business, but the upside to responding can make a huge difference in customer loyalty and acquisition. Just remember to respond in TIME.
Using Artificial Intelligence to Help Respond More Efficiently
The fast rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has created a valuable time-saving opportunity for restaurant owners and operators who are serious about their ratings and reviews.
With an AI-powered restaurant marketing platform like Bloom Intelligence, you can aggregate your ratings and reviews from multiple websites into a single platform all in real time.
This alone will save you a great deal of time because it saves you from searching through multiple sites throughout the day or week.
But you can also respond to all of them from within the Bloom platform. Imagine the time you can save that you can then devote to the important areas of running your business.
Plus, you can create templates to use to make responding even faster and more efficient.
In addition, using AI natural language processing, the system will rewrite your response templates for each response. This will appear much more personal and unique.
Bloom users are reporting saving up to 15 hours per week using this revolutionary new way to manage their restaurant reputation.
To see more of what Bloom’s AI-powered restaurant marketing platform can do for you and your business, click on the banner below.
These are only a few of the revolutionary ways that AI can be used in the restaurant industry. AI technology is sure to continue its development, saving even more time and resources for restaurant owners and operators around the world.
Discover Bloom Intelligence
Keeping a focus on guest satisfaction, customer sentiment, and online ratings and reviews using AI-driven tools can boost the visibility and reputation of your restaurant, helping you drive new guests into your restaurant – all while saving time and lowering marketing costs.
Call us or schedule a free demo online and Bloom will show you how our restaurant marketing platform can help you save time and increase your customer lifetime values by automatically building first-party customer databases, unlocking important guest insights to trigger marketing at the right time and place, discover true guest sentiment, save at-risk guests, increase your current guests’ frequency, and find new guests.