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Five Tips to Improve Online Reviews for Your Restaurant

A Yelp rating going up from 3.5 to 4 stars can greatly increase your restaurant's revenue. Here are 5 tips to helps you get the most out of online reviews.

2 mins readOctober 02, 2023

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. Create a profile on the major review sites

To continue fueling our online reviews, restaurant customers need to know that you exist. Here's a list of the best restaurant review sites in the US where you'll want to appear:


NameLinkSearches/Visitors per Day/MonthCostGood to Know
Google My BusinessLink8.5 billion searches/dayFreeOwners can respond to reviews; important for multi-location businesses.
FacebookLink2.9 billion monthly visitorsFreeEngage with feedback, update content regularly, and utilize Facebook Business tools.
YelpLink33 million monthly visitorsFreeControl listing to manage reviews; seasonal spotlight ads for larger businesses.
TripadvisorLinkNot specifiedFreeGlobal reach; customize restaurant details and respond to reviews.
ZomatoLink32.1 million monthly visitorsFreeDisplays reviews from critics, bloggers, and customers; provides restaurant details.
OpenTableLink44 million monthly visitorsFreeCustomers read reviews and earn dining rewards; rating influences reservations.
ZagatLink500,000 monthly visitorsFreeCentralized location for top guides and reviews; discover new and trendy spots.
The InfatuationLinkNot specifiedFreeCurated reviews for younger audience; offers real-time recommendations via chat.
GayotLinkNot specifiedFreeReviews by restaurant critics and experts; recognized for its 20 point-rating system.
Uber EatsLink81 million usersFreeQuick reviews; specific locations rated individually; mainly for delivery.

2. Showcase positive reviews on your website and social media

You can compile positive reviews from different platforms to create a Customer Reviews page on your website, as well as individual posts on social media.

You can do this by turning those positive restaurant reviews into beautiful graphics using an online tool, such as Visual Paradigm. Using a "quote graphic" you can include highlights from the review and give credit to your reviewer by tagging them or by mentioning them by name.

Restaurant review

3. Incentivize your customers to review their experience

It's noteworthy that a significant 72% of customers, when prompted, took the initiative to pen down a review. This underscores the power of a simple request.

To harness this potential, consider the following strategies to encourage your customers to leave feedback:


  • QR Codes for Quick Access: Strategically place QR codes on tables. With a quick scan, these codes can lead customers directly to the review page, simplifying the process for them.

  • Engage and Persuade Through Conversation: As a waiter or waitress, personal interaction holds immense potential. Begin by asking specific questions about their meal, such as, "How did you find our [rice dish]?" If the response is positive, delve a bit deeper by sharing insights: "I'm delighted you enjoyed it! Our [rice dish] is crafted with locally-sourced ingredients and a blend of aromatic herbs that our chefs take pride in." Then segue into the main request, "Your feedback would mean a lot to us and potential diners. Would you be open to sharing your experience on Google Reviews?"

  • Facilitate the Review Process: If they're amenable, present them with a tablet to pen down their thoughts. It's essential to respect their privacy during this time. Hand over the device and step away, perhaps offering a gesture of appreciation like complimentary mints or a drink. This not only gives them a moment to reflect and write but also acts as a subtle incentive for their time and effort.

  • Be Available for Assistance: While it's important to give them space, remain attentive. Some customers might need guidance or have questions about the review process. Ensure you're on standby to offer assistance if required.


By combining personal interaction, knowledge about the dish, and a seamless review process, restaurants can significantly enhance the likelihood of customers leaving valuable feedback.

Restaurant catering

4. Respond to comments—good and bad

It's a well-established fact that an overwhelming 96% of customers read not just reviews, but also the business' response to them. This highlights the importance of being engaged and interactive. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, every comment offers an opportunity to showcase your restaurant's commitment to excellence.

Here are some strategies to ensure effective review management:

  • Acknowledge All Feedback: Respond to every review, even if it's just a star rating. A simple "thank you" can go a long way. But avoid generic responses—personalize your reply by addressing the reviewer by name.

  • Showcase Genuine Care: Highlight the specifics of a detailed review in your response. This demonstrates that you've taken the time to read and appreciate their feedback. Always express gratitude and emphasize your dedication to enhancing the dining experience.

  • Handle Criticism Gracefully: When faced with negative feedback, resist the urge to be defensive. Instead, apologize sincerely and inquire about potential ways to rectify the situation. An amicable approach in public responses not only mends individual relationships but also positively shapes the perceptions of potential customers.

  • Go the Extra Mile: In instances of dissatisfaction, consider reaching out privately to discuss further resolutions. Observing that a restaurant is eager to make amends can often lead customers to amend their reviews, reflecting the positive turnaround.

By actively and politely engaging with your online feedback, you not only foster trust but also influence consumer behavior in a favorable manner.

Here’s a template you can use to respond to negative restaurant reviews:


Negative review response template

5. Use reviews as feedback to improve your restaurant service

It goes without saying that your customers will only leave positive reviews if they were given a good customer service. Assuming you're ticking all the right boxes, you can benefit from customer reviews to improve your restaurant service even more, and in turn, get more positive reviews.

Delve into these reviews to uncover insights about:

Cuisine: Do patrons frequently commend a specific dish? Think about giving it a spotlight on your menu. Perhaps, incorporate snippets from these reviews into your menu to enhance its appeal.

Customer Service: Is there a particular staff member who frequently gets mentioned for their outstanding service? Use this feedback during evaluations and when considering incentives.

Décor: If guests can't stop talking about a certain piece of artwork or décor, why not promote it for social media shares? Introduce signage with relevant hashtags nearby to amplify your restaurant's promotional activities.

Takeaways

  1. Establish Presence on Review Sites: Create profiles on major review platforms like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, and others to increase visibility.

  1. Highlight Positive Feedback: Showcase commendations from various platforms on your website and social media. Use tools like Visual Paradigm to convert reviews into engaging graphics.

  1. Prompt Reviews with QR Codes: Place QR codes on tables directing customers to review pages for easy access.

  1. Engage Customers Directly for Feedback: After dining, personally ask customers about their experience. Use positive feedback as an entry point to request a review.

  1. Simplify the Review Process: Offer tablets to customers willing to leave a review, ensuring privacy while they write.

  1. Acknowledge and Respond to Every Review: Whether positive or negative, address each review, showing customers you value their feedback.

  1. Handle Criticisms Constructively: Respond to negative feedback with understanding and offer solutions. Reach out privately if necessary to further address concerns.

  1. Utilize Feedback for Improvement: Use reviews to identify areas of excellence and areas needing improvement in food, service, and ambiance.

  1. Promote Star Performers: Recognize staff members who consistently receive positive mentions, considering this during evaluations and rewards.

  1. Elevate Popular Features: Highlight dishes or décor elements that receive frequent positive mentions, and leverage them in marketing and promotions.

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