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Top 5 Tips to Improve Online Reviews for Your Restaurant

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We all love to eat, and food has evolved and gotten much more sophisticated over time. From simple home-cooked meals to various local food restaurant menus, it seems like we want to try it all!

But with so many places to try and limited time and resources, statistics show that 60 percent of customers look at online restaurant reviews before going. In fact, the survey says 1/3 of consumers won’t eat at a restaurant with a 3-stars and below rating.

A Berkeley study actually showed that a restaurant’s Yelp rating going up from 3.5 to 4 stars increases the likelihood of a restaurant is fully booked each evening by about 49%. This, on average, translates to a 6-9% increase in revenues – for half a star!

As a restaurant owner, online reviews of your restaurant matter because consumers rely more on public reviews rather than food critics. That is why you should care about what your consumers say on review websites such as Yelp.

Here are few of the things that you can do to get the most out of online reviews and help your business thrive through them.

1. Be active online on social media

New restaurants open every day. For that reason, it’s essential for you to have an active online presence to break through the clutter. And, part of your online presence should be through social media and review sites.

If you want your customers to write a review, though, you have to encourage them and let them know that they can leave online reviews, or at least remind them of it. How can you do this?

  • Leave reminders in your restaurants or hand out business cards.
  • Include the reminder in your email newsletters or on your restaurant’s menu
  • Train your staff to capitalize on happy customers and ask them to leave a positive review.

Social media sites like Facebook can also be a huge asset, serving as a central location where customers can leave reviews.

But don’t let your Facebook page just sit there. You have to make sure to be active on it and interacting with people leaving comments and reviews there. Plus, it’s a great place to share new menu items, pictures of your staff, events, and more.

2. Simply ask your customers to review their experience

While review sites are a great help to know your customer’s experience, you shouldn’t just stop there. You need to get your customers involved by getting their feedback. The simplest way to get feedback for your restaurant is to simply ask your customers nicely without being too eager or insisting.

There’s actually no need to incentivize responses with promotions like “A free meal for each 5-star review,” as that would come across as desperate and insecure about the quality of the experience you’re offering.

Another way of asking for feedback is by handing over a card after taking payment and asking the customer to leave a review (e.g. “If you liked the experience, please leave us a review”). Your staff can also leave a personal note to make it more customized.

If the customer didn’t leave a review or doesn’t want to, you might want to re-visit your process of leaving a feedback/review. Is it too complicated? Does it ask too many questions? Make it a point that the process is as easy as possible. Remember, it’s already nice of them to take the time to leave a positive review about your business, give back by making the process as smooth and fast as possible.

3. Create your own landing page for reviews

To make leaving reviews easier for your customers, you might want to consider having your own landing page on your website for reviews. This page should have links to popular review sites where customers can easily access the pages with just one click and leave a quick review. This will save them the hassle of going on the websites, looking for your restaurant.=

The only thing left to determine now is how you can get them to go to this webpage. Try to figure out the best moment to reach out to them to ask for their feedback, like right after paying the bill, or the following week, or even the next day.

4. Try text messages

Yes, social media platforms and having your own website reaches a lot of customers, but there’s still this widely underutilized tool by businesses today, which is text messaging. Text messaging is an extremely simple, non-intrusive way to get in contact with customers. This could be a great tool to send a link to your own customized review landing page. Since some businesses already use text messaging to confirm reservations, send news, etc., why not utilize them to ask for feedback?

While text messaging is perceived as less intrusive than other means of contacting, however, you still cannot abuse them. Be mindful as sending too many text messages will quickly turn the tides and lead to negative reviews.

5. Handle negative reviews

You can’t please everyone. That’s a fact. No matter how hard you try to satisfy all your customers’ wants, you won’t always get good reviews. So, what do you do when that dreaded negative public review is published?

First, you should act professional and take the high road. Just because someone criticized your business doesn’t mean that you have to fight back. Show them wrong by behaving like the nicest person ever and showing the public what you are made of. A single criticism won’t kill your business as long as more people know that you provide unrelenting customer satisfaction.

Also, take it outside (offline). Yes, it’s necessary that you answer at least once online to the negative review to show everybody that you’re addressing the issue and that you care about your customers, but don’t go down low by playing back and forth in public. Try resolving the issue offline. Once it’s resolved, share on the thread that the issue has already been resolved.

Finally, always remember that the best teacher is failure. Don’t take negative reviews as your failure – take them as an opportunity for you to learn. A negative review, although “negative,” shows you where your business might have some shortcomings and will lead you to where you could improve. These reviews are not insults (even though sometimes they sure do look like it), these are motivation for you to give more so you never get a review of this type again.