Did you know that 87% of consumers read and check online reviews before going to or trying out a local business? It’s a growing trend that allows consumers to learn a little more about a business before supporting or paying for its services.
Moreover, consumers’ buying behavior is more affected by negative online reviews than by positive ones. When consumers see that other consumers are unsatisfied with a business’ service, they tend to assume it is not good for them as well.
Additionally, monitoring and responding to your restaurant reviews is also a great way to protect and strengthen your online visibility. Positive reviews can also be used as a marketing tool to entice consumers into visiting your restaurant.
This is how crucial the role of online reviews is in today’s restaurant scene. Imagine you’re already risking losing a sale even though the consumer has not yet made a purchase or interacted with your team or brand.
Worried about the reviews you’re getting online? As this article comprises a variety of knowledge you can use to manage this aspect of your business, you are in good hands. In addition, we’ve included tips for handling negative online reviews.
Online Reviews in the Restaurant Industry
As the adage goes, “A fickle heart is the only constant in this world.”, consumers are also identified to be fickle. They are easily influenced by the things they see and hear, especially if it’s coming from someone they can relate to, thus the power of word-of-mouth.
Last year, it is claimed that almost forty-two percent of consumers are influenced by the online reviews that they read about a restaurant. It’s a significant number, especially if you’re trying to penetrate the digital market.
Online reviews are not just for the sake of protecting your restaurant’s image or your brand as a whole, but it also affects your online reputation. It is also a practical way to learn what are the areas you need to work on regarding your operations and management.
Tracking and responding to online reviews also enables you to improve your customer engagement rate, which often leads to a higher conversion rate as well.
How Online Reviews Affect Your Restaurant Brand?
The restaurant industry is one of the most competitive and congested industries. Being presented with a bunch of options, it’s just natural for consumers to be picky when it comes to the restaurant that they’ll be trying out.
Having this type of lead magnet has proven to be beneficial for your restaurant, especially with modern diners, the Millennials and Gen Z. These generations are very particular about the businesses that they support.
This is regardless of how effective, aggressive, and engaging your marketing campaigns are. If a potential customer sees a negative review unattended or any type of online review for your restaurant that’s not responded to, it will quickly project a bad light for your brand.
Responding to online reviews is a must for your restaurant. It’s an efficient way to build connections and engage customers more into your brand. This especially applies to negative online reviews.
Taking action to a negative review demonstrates that you value your customer’s opinions and are open to improvement. Furthermore, it’s a good way to increase transparency with your customers, which will give them more reason to trust you.
It’s important to remember that after-sales are just as important as the customer service you provided when your customers were in your establishment. Whether they are physically present or not, you have to make them feel that you can handle their concerns and ensure their needs are met.
Importance of Online Reviews for Restaurants
By understanding the importance of restaurant reviews, you can improve your business and grow it according to the demands of your customers. You’re able to balance and craft a plan that will both serve your business and customer needs.
Business owners are driven to monitor and manage online reviews about their business for the following reasons.
It’s a powerful social proof
Keep in mind that consumers will always assume that you’re just trying to make a revenue out of them. This is why most of the marketing campaigns fail because it fails to connect directly to consumers.
That’s why online reviews are an effective marketing tool. As it is written by fellow consumers, readers will readily relate to their experience, even if they have not yet tried your services.
Customers will seek out your restaurant if they see social proof. If you receive a bad review, you can still take advantage of it with good management.
It improves your online ranking
Searching online for everything appears to be a daily activity for consumers. Whether they’re looking for the nearest restaurant or nearest takeaway options, one-click is all they need to have data and information on their hands.
Review sites provide a steady stream of content that search engines consider highly relevant when selecting which results to return. These major search engines have different rules regarding their algorithms, but organic and fresh content such as reviews are known to rank well.
It increases online customer engagement
With limited physical contact, it’s nearly impossible to build a solid connection with your consumers. That’s why working on your online engagement is a must to make sure that you’ll be retaining the interest of consumers.
Seeing that you respond to reviews, even if they didn’t write them, will make consumers think of your restaurant as trustworthy. It will also give the impression that you value your customers’ opinions, and don’t just regard them as a source of income.
It boosts your sales
It’s only natural for your revenue to grow when customers start flocking into your restaurant. Also, there’s a study that states that brands that are viewed positively have a better flow of revenue.
You can also leave a positive impression, even if you have a lot of negative reviews if you show that you are working on areas that need improvement. In turn, this leads to an increase in sales as well, especially through your food delivery app.
Tips on How To Respond To Negative Reviews
It is already a standard practice to respond promptly to online reviews. An unattended review, whether it’s positive or negative, leaves a bad impression on consumers. You may find it difficult to deal with a negative review without coming across as defensive, however.
Below are a few tips you can use when dealing with bad reviews that will benefit both your management and your customers. Firstly, here’s a quick guide on how to handle reviews.
- Identify if the user is a legitimate account.
- Remember to express appreciation if they leave a good review. If it’s a bad one, make sure that you apologize for what happened.
- For bad reviews, let them know how you will take action on their feedback.
- Investigate with your team what happened, and relay it to the user.
- Assure that such mistakes will not happen again (should there be one).
Allocate time to respond
While prompt responses are desirable, it’s not productive if you’re going to monitor your website or other review sites for reviews all day. Time management is crucial for effective restaurant management.
It’s best to set or schedule a specific time where you will focus your attention in attending to the reviews for your restaurant. Make sure that it’s a suitable time that still allows you to provide replies promptly.
Take a logical approach
Before you dive into the reviews, make sure that you’re in a relaxed state. This prevents you from providing too emotional responses which often escalate rather than solve the conflict. This is regardless of whether the review is a good one, most especially if it’s a bad one.
Remember to apologize
Customers will always be right. Even if they claim otherwise, other consumers will still assume that their fellow consumer is saying the truth. Upon receiving a bad online review, make sure to apologize for the inconvenience it has caused the customer.
Express sympathy for their situation and acknowledge their frustrations. Make sure you make them feel that they’re being heard.
Provide a detailed explanation
After your investigation, update your customer on what went wrong. They are now aware of every process in your operations, this is why it’s helpful that they have an idea of what happened and why it did.
Clarify what needs to be clarified. And if it soon reveals that it’s their fault, be sure not to make them feel guilty. Explain how you can work on a solution that will work best for both parties.
Keep in mind that your service does not end when a customer leaves your premises. Online reviews are not just a method to validate you and your management, but it’s also a learning tool.
By doing so, you gain a different perspective on your business and uncover little mistakes that are typically overlooked. Try not to take it personally and see it as a free tool that will help you to improve your current operations.