Customer reviews can make or break a restaurant.
According to one study, people read restaurant reviews more than they read reviews for any other business.
This indicates the importance that consumers place on finding out how other people rate a restaurant before deciding to dine there. As a restaurateur, this calls on you to ensure your business receives as many positive ratings as possible.
The simple reason why reviews are so effective is that as human beings we trust the opinions of other people. If we find out that a lot of people have given a business a great review we are likely to choose that business over another offering the same service which does not have as many positive reviews. In fact, if your business receives more than 4 negative reviews, you could lose about 70% of potential customers.
How to get positive reviews
Satisfied customers are likely to post good reviews about your restaurant. In order to get great reviews, your restaurant has to provide good service and surpass customer expectations. This requires that your business processes support your customer service aspirations. For example, if your restaurant has a delivery service, do you have enough vehicles needed to deliver all orders on time? Your staff also play a large role in having satisfied customers. In addition to being trained, your staff should have a passion for their work and this will be reflected in the service they provide to your clients.
Everything about the restaurant, from the menu to the décor and dish presentation should be to a level that your customers expect. Once you have covered the basics and your staff are aligned to your business goals, then providing great customer service should come more effortlessly.
Having happy customers in itself does not guarantee you will get positive reviews. Some may appreciate your service but may need to be reminded to leave a review. You may encourage them to leave their reviews in a few ways:
Register on review sites
Customers consult top review sites to find out about restaurants. If your restaurant does not have a profile on major review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, then you may be losing potential business. Build a compelling profile on these sites and ensure your business is easy to find and review.
The one thing that restaurant customers are sure to read apart from the menu is their bill. Include a short message reminding them to leave a review and highlight which websites to visit in order to do so.
Email and text messages
Ask customers for their emails or phone numbers, especially if they are calling in to place their orders. In this way, you can contact them soon after they have enjoyed your food and ask for a review.
What customers say
If you get a satisfied customer and they tell you about the wonderful experience they have had, ask them tactfully, to put that review on any of your review profiles. If you find willing customers, you can even make short videos of them sharing their experience. You can then post the videos online, and these will serve as a testimony of your service.
You should also regularly search for mentions of your restaurant online. Using a social listening tool will come in handy. You may find that customers are already commenting about the wonderful experience they had at your restaurant. In addition, you may find user-generated content; comments, videos, and photos of your food and décor, which customers loved and posted. Finding these will give you an opportunity to share your customers’ stories with the rest of your network. If you mention the customer by name, your post will appear on their wall and their network will get to see it. This will help spread the news about your restaurant to even more people.
How to respond to negativity
No matter how wonderful your service is, there will always be a few unsatisfied customers. Their negative reviews may have a detrimental impact on your business. Although they are not ideal to have, negative reviews can help you introspect and find cracks in your business that you never knew existed.
When you receive a negative review you should endeavour to address the customer as quickly as you can. It is important that you post a response to the negative review, highlighting that the restaurant is taking steps to deal with the issue. Try to understand the situation from their point of view and if possible talk to the customers away from the public eye.
As you continually work on improving your restaurant and your customer service, you will increase the number of satisfied customers you get. Putting the above strategies into action may help encourage your customers to give you positive ratings, leading to an improved bottom line.