In 2022, restaurant reputation management is more important than ever.
The Covid pandemic changed the way consumers search for a place to spend their money. More than ever, diners who are looking for eat-in, take-out, or delivery are searching websites like Google or Facebook to read ratings and reviews.
That’s why it is critical to have a rock-solid restaurant reputation management strategy that includes consistently asking your guests to leave you a positive rating. And it is just as important to make sure and respond to each one of them.
To attract new guests, and to keep your current guests coming back, it is important to manage and maintain positive ratings and reviews on a consistent basis.
Here are 10 tips for restaurant reputation management that will help you get consistent positive ratings to help your business grow.
1. Consistently Monitor Ratings and Reviews
The first step in using ratings and reviews to improve your business is to monitor and evaluate them closely and consistently.
Getting on a regular schedule of evaluating and responding to your reviews can help. Soon you may begin to see specific patterns emerging.
When you identify an issue, good or bad, you should take immediate action to improve it.
Above all, you must keep a consistent schedule of monitoring and responding to your reviews.
2. Request Ratings and Reviews
According to a Time.com article, customer ratings are dominated by 5’s and 1’s and largely lack anything in the middle.
This happens because most customers who take the time to leave a review either had an amazing experience or a terrible one.
Customers who had a realistic or ordinary experience just don’t feel motivation to leave any kind of review at all.
To overcome this, don’t be afraid to ask your customers to leave a review for you online.
According to a 2017 BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey, 68% of consumer respondents actually left a local business review when asked to do so.
If you have a restaurant CRM database, you can use it to automate the process by sending an email with a rating request after a guest leaves your establishment.
3. Respond to All Ratings and Review
A study by TNS NIPO researched over 2,000 negative online customer ratings and concluded that overall 70% of complainants hope to receive a response, while just 38% receive one. According to TNS NIPO, the success of the response is determined by 3 factors:
- The speed of the customer review response time.
- The quality of the solution provided to the customer.
- How the response is provided, and how genuine the response is perceived.
Likewise, responding to positive reviews can greatly improve the reputation of your restaurant.
Most business owners will simply leave positive reviews alone. However, responding to them can greatly boost the effectiveness of that review.
The upside to responding to negative and positive ratings and reviews can make a huge difference in customer loyalty, customer service recovery, and new customer acquisition.
4. Showcase Your Ratings On Your Website
As your ratings and reviews continue to build, it is a good idea to showcase those ratings on your website and social media platforms. This is powerful social proof.
Wherever possible, mention to your followers and website users about your aggregate ratings. At the same time, you can request new users to rate you as well.
You can also use Bloom’s configurable ratings widget to proudly display all your new positive ratings on your website.
When potential guests come to your website to see your menu or learn more about you, these positive ratings act as social proof to further encourage them to come to your locations.
Over time you will likely see your ratings and reviews become even more positive. This leads to more new customers and retention of your current customer base, which equals increased customer lifetime values and revenue for your business.
5. Make Negative Ratings Good
Even if you strive to provide stellar customer service, a customer will eventually have a negative experience.
As author and customer service strategist John Tschohl explains, “If there’s an industry that seems to have more problems, and more difficulties, and more things that can happen that are bad, it’s got to be in the restaurant business.”
Customer service recovery refers to the process of identifying a negative customer experience or a dissatisfied customer, responding to them and resolving their issue, and then converting them into more of a loyal customer than if they had never had the negative experience.
This creates an excellent opportunity for you to convey to the customer how valuable they are to you and your business.
Here is a great post about how to respond to negative reviews.
6. Create Ratings Feedback Loops
Using a WiFi customer intelligence platform like Bloom Intelligence, it is simple and easy to create an automated feedback loop to help improve your online ratings and reviews.
When a guest leaves your restaurant, an initial message will be sent to thank the guest and ask them to rate their experience.
If the guest leaves a negative review, a secondary message can be sent that would offer an apology for providing anything less than stellar service and can include an incentive to get the customer back through your door for that valuable second chance.
The idea is to grab the customer’s attention and offer some kind of resolution to their issue before they get to an online ratings website.
If they know their issue is being addressed in a friendly and positive manner, they will most likely refrain from complaining online.
The best part is that the entire process is automated and runs behind the scenes while you concentrate on running your business.
7. Use AI to Know Customer Sentiment
Not only are positive ratings and reviews good for your bottom line, but they are also great for spotting trends and measuring customer sentiment.
Measuring customer sentiment can give you very deep insight into your customer base. It tells you not only what customers like and dislike, but the reasoning behind the way they feel that way.
The first step in utilizing reviews to measure sentiment is to monitor and evaluate them consistently. Once you are on a regular schedule of evaluating your reviews, you may begin to see patterns emerging.
When an issue is identified, good or bad, always take swift action to improve it.
For instance, if you are seeing consistent positive comments about a certain product, you might want to feature it as a special.
Or, if you see consistent negative reviews about a certain item, you could try modifying it, or removing it from your menu altogether.
Bloom Intelligence makes this even easier by providing an artificial intelligence-generated word cloud showing positive, neutral, and negative customer sentiment. It’s an easy way to quickly spot trends and improve upon them.
8. Use AI to Optimize Marketing and Operations
Measuring customer sentiment is also a great way to learn how you can use it to your advantage in your marketing and operations strategies.
For example, if you have consistent positive sentiment on a particular menu item, you can showcase that item in your marketing messaging or on social media.
Or, if you see a trend about 86’ing a particular menu item often, you can change your purchasing quantity or schedule for that item. Or if there is a trend about having a short staff, you can adjust your staffing accordingly.
9. Incentivize Your Wait Staff
Your wait staff is your front line to the outside world. They are the ones talking to your guests the most. Why not incentivize them to solicit ratings and reviews from happy guests?
If they see a guest who is outwardly having a good time, finished their entire meal, or left a great tip, ask them to rate their experience online.
You can even offer a tangible incentive like a free meal for two, or a monetary reward.
10. Discuss In Employee and Management Meetings
To keep your restaurant reputation management top of mind with every employee, it is a good idea to make it a topic of conversation in all employee and management meetings.
Discuss the quality and quantity of ratings and reviews you are receiving. Brainstorm new ideas on how to get more, and better reviews. Give Kudos to employees who were directly mentioned in any reviews.
The more you discuss these things, the more apt your employees will be to help improve your online – and offline – reputation.
11. Discover Bloom Intelligence
It’s time to start leveraging the power of advanced restaurant reputation management tools to grow your business.
Bloom can save you a great deal of time and energy by automating guest rating requests, displaying all your ratings and reviews in one place, and showing you accurate customer sentiment which you can use to improve customer experience.
This is only one small part of what Bloom can do to save you more time, increase customer lifetime values, increase the number of positive online reviews, win back lost guests, and improve your restaurant reputation.
If you’d like to see the Bloom restaurant marketing platform in action, and discover how you can grow your business through guest intelligence and marketing automation, schedule a free demo or call 727-877-8181.