As the Digital Era revolutionized the whole Restaurant Industry where everything went online and digitized, you must also know how important online restaurant reputation management is. Customers also adapted to the new norm of the industry where online reviews become the new “word-of-mouth”. And with the continuous development of technology, it’s already hard to go back to what’s used to be.
The strength of your marketing strategy won’t matter if you don’t take note of what the customers want you to take note of. While the authority is always on the side of the customers, the recent pandemic has emphasized that authority and changes in the behavior of the customers are being observed. Customers are more eager to be served but they’re conscious more than ever.
This is the main reason why customers tend to check the online reputation first and it influences their buying-decision immensely. 92% of customers often check the online reputation of a restaurant before they try it out. If this isn’t enough reason to make you start working on your online restaurant reputation management, then how about the almost 99% chance of Millennials and Gen Z checking out the reputation of an establishment first before they check it out personally? It’s a huge number, especially during this time where every customer counts.
Read along as this article provides essential tips about online restaurant reputation management, that you may also try to implement in your restaurant management.
Tips to Manage the Online Reputation of Your Restaurant
Building your online presence is only your first step towards the restructured competition in the industry. If you want to be able to keep your restaurant business in a good position, you must also know how to navigate your way digitally and how to keep your online reputation at its optimal condition. Here are well-proven and workable tips you can use to manage your online reputation well.
Determine customers’ desires
To make it easier for you and your restaurant team to build an online presence that will appeal positively to your customers, you must know what they want to see, know, and even hear from you. If they want a restaurant that’s updated on current news and events, you may want to produce contents that talk about trends.
However, if your target audience wants something more relevant about your industry, then listen to them and provide them what they want. This is to show to them that you’re open to listening to their suggestions and that their opinion matters
Stay updated to news and alerts
Keeping updated on different news, especially the ones that carry significance on your industry and restaurant business is a good step into restaurant reputation management. This way you’ll have an easier way to foresee what else your target customers want, and if you’ll see a pattern, you may also determine what their possible demands are.
You may also want to set alerts on your Google My Business profile to see what people are trying to search for, or what are the things they say about your restaurant. Through this, you can also monitor online reputation bombs.
Keep in mind that two types of negative content can stain your online reputation, first is the online reviews from your social media account while the other ones are identified as online reputation bombs. Online reputation bombs are the negative content that affects your restaurant’s reputation and sales for a longer period.
These negative contents cause critical damage to the restaurant business because these are well-established content online. Your potential customers can continuously search for these containers that are harmful to your reputation. Here are the types of online reputation bombs that you should try to avoid, and if you already have one, you must know how to manage them.
- Fatalistic media coverage – If you think that media covers just the television, the radio, and the printed newspaper, then you’re incredibly wrong. The media also took a huge step into digitization and went digital for most of their operations. That’s why having negative media coverage can still gravely damage your online restaurant reputation.
Invest in your PR. It may cost you a bit but it will provide exemplary results, especially if you’re trying to build your reputation on media. If you can’t hire a PR team for your restaurant, you may also try to team up with influencers and local bloggers in your community. Today is the era of influencers, and these individuals have a huge following in which they influence on what to buy, where to dine, and what business to support.
- Hate websites – Most restaurant owners can handle one negative review or two, but if it’s a prominent website then it must be a huge drawback on anyone’s reputation. Some customers go over the line and establish hate sites where they express their hate, continuously slam a restaurant’s reputation, and even spread false information about the restaurant business. This is something you really should look out for as it bears the name of your restaurant on the world wide web, and it could keep on popping when customers search for your restaurant.
- Negative online reviews – These are the types of negative reviews that are published on review sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor. You can’t just interfere with the reviews published but you can talk to the website’s admin if there are reviews that are far from the truth for them to take action. The only thing you can do with these types of reviews is to monitor and take advantage of the privilege to respond to reviews.
Stay updated by setting up Google Alerts for your Google listing. In any case that there’s a published online review, be it negative or positive, you’ll be alerted in your Gmail alert section. This is important because Google, being the world’s largest search engine, influences a customer’s mind more than you think.
Work with SEO
As if it was not emphasized enough, working on your SEO is the basic foundation of your restaurant business online. It determines your restaurant website rankings, as well as how you can help your customers to locate your restaurant business easily. Work on your online reputation management by making sure that your SEO is properly monitored and taken care of.
It is greatly beneficial for your restaurant if you have an optimal SEO because it will be easier for your customers to find and identify your services. Are they looking for the best restaurant in your local community? Or the best place to eat near them? These are just some of the most common searched restaurant terms that you can use to optimize your SEO.
Once your SEO is at its best, there’s no stopping you from conquering the online community. Just make sure that you fully understand how it works, but if you don’t have time, it is best to consult with experts and have them do their magic with your restaurant business.
Monitor online reviews
The thing about online reviews is that you really can’t control them. It is your customer’s right to express their feelings about your restaurant business and its service. And it usually won’t matter if it’s true or not, people will always tend to listen to other people because they can connect with them. If you fail to respond to a review, be it a negative or a positive one, people will start to assume that you don’t value your customers enough to listen to their opinion. This will hurt your restaurant, especially that you operate a customer-centric business.
Customers love to be heard. They don’t want to be treated as cash cows in a business where customers are important. They want to feel that they’re valued and they take part in an important process of the restaurant. This is the main reason why you should always respond to online reviews in a well-mannered way.
Avoid being too political and too emotional if you’re responding to a review. You must also take note that you don’t have to be so defensive, the last thing you want is to be branded as a business that can’t take an insult or a critic. Make sure that you take this opportunity to let your customers know how much you value them and keep them engaged with your brand.
But online reviews can also be messy. As online evolution continues to gain popularity, distractions and problems are also done online. There are bots and false information to watch out for. For online reviews and review sites, make sure that you’re engaging with a real customer first. After your confirmation, investigate what happened in that situation and apologize if needed, but express gratitude for giving your restaurant business a chance to make it up to them.
Here are some helpful ways on how to deal with reviews that are not true and considered illegal and improve your review management.
- Removal of the review – If a particular review is negative in the sense that it spreads false information about your restaurant, or used an unacceptable form of language, you can ask the review site to remove it for you and block the sender. This helps you to ensure that all reviews that your potential customers will see are truthful.
- Investigate – Conduct an online investigation if there are attacks on your brand that are considered consequential. Ask for the help of an online analyst to trace this type of review to prevent your customers from seeing such.
- Stronger SEO – If it’s an online reputation bomb, it’s harder to remove it on every search engine available. Being more aggressive on your SEO to put those online reputation bombs on the farther pages is one way to improve your online reputation management.
Let your customers feel that you’re learning from the mistake you and your team made and that you’re thankful for expressing their honest opinion about your restaurant. Make sure that you’ll do this sincerely to avoid confusion and further complication of the issue.
Encourage positive reviews
One basic rule in review management is to respond timely and in a manner that you show respect and acknowledge your customer’s views and opinions. If you continuously encourage positive reviews, potential customers will have a greater opportunity to chance on those positive reviews compared to the negative ones.
Though you have to be open to negative reviews, it won’t hurt trying to fire up reviews that support and help your reputation management.
Another way to gain positive reviews is by staying transparent with your customers. Show them your respect by being truthful and providing them responses that are based on truth and facts.
Be proactive on social media
Social media management is one way to enhance your online restaurant reputation management. 53.6% of the world’s population uses and is active on social media that’s why monitoring and managing your social media is an important part of your restaurant reputation management.
Customers often check on your restaurant website and social media profiles, if some comments or reviews are left unattended it leaves a not-so-good reputation about your restaurant brand. Make sure that you have enough time to monitor and respond to all the inquiries, reviews, and even comment on your social media accounts.
Don’t take for granted the chance to connect with your customers. If you don’t have enough time to sit and check on your social media accounts, you may try to train one of your restaurant staff with social media management. Just make sure that you will properly incentivize that employee because it is an added task to their demanding job.
Utilize monitoring tools
It is okay to seek help and assistance to put your reputation management reviews at ease. If you don’t have enough resources to hire an online analyst or additional staff to manage your online reputation, then it might be helpful to check out monitoring tools that can guide and help you improve your online reputation management. Here are some of the tools that are considered worth their value in online reputation and social media management.
- Google My Business
- Google Alerts
Connect to customers
Don’t fail to communicate and create connections with your customers. Through the help of monitoring tools, you now can respond to them timely. Your customers will greatly appreciate timely responses from you because you’re leaving them an impression that you’re responsible and that you genuinely want to connect with them.
Just be careful on responding and make sure that you won’t use demeaning language. You must, at all costs, avoid offending your customers. Be clear in communicating your intentions, and stay level-headed while responding to online reviews, especially the negative ones.
Stay consistent on marketing
Consistent and strong marketing strategies are important in reputation management. It is not just enough that you keep on accepting and entertaining reviews about your restaurant business, you also need to keep information about your restaurant out there. Treat your Google page as your business card because it functions the same for your customers.
For your marketing, to manage your online reputation, you must also understand your detractors. There are plenty of marketing and promotional efforts that are put to waste or are aggressively attacked by their target audience because the message of the campaign offended its audience. Before you launch a marketing and promotional campaign, make sure that you have conducted thorough research to back up its results.
You’re planning for your marketing because you want to boost your online reputation, avoid damaging it by creating a marketing plan that’s not well researched.
Your restaurant website plays a huge role in your marketing efforts, as well as in your online reputation management. Your website contains a lot of information about your restaurant, it should be kept updated, functional, and interactive to keep a positive reputation online. Providing all necessary information such as parking space, operating hours, location, menu, and the like don’t just help your online reputation but also boosts customer engagement, brand awareness, and brand retention.
Take it as a learning opportunity
Dealing with online reviews, especially the negative ones, can cause a lot of stress on you as a restaurant owner. But keep in mind that you can convert every situation as a learning opportunity and improvement for you and your restaurant.
If you happen to deal with negative online reviews, take a step back and make sure you see the bigger picture. If the review mentioned your service or food, conduct an investigation and see if your customer had a point on their review. From there you can adjust what’s needed and tailor it how your customers want it. It will be easier for you to build an outstanding online reputation if you’re serving your customers not just what they need, but also go for what they want.
The manner you manage your online reputation truthfully reflects how much you care, not just about your restaurant business, but also about your staff and your customers.