For restaurants of all sizes, today’s turbulent environment has made online reputation management more important than ever. Customers want to know that a restaurant they’re patronizing offers not only good food, but also equally good — or even better — customer service.
People can easily determine whether a restaurant has a solid reputation by checking reviews on various platforms and conducting other research online. In fact, one survey found that 90% of diners research a restaurant online before their first visit. This is why reputation management is so crucial in the restaurant industry.
If you’re not sure how to go about boosting your restaurant’s online reputation, the following are 6 vital online reputation management tips for restaurants.
1. Monitor and Respond to Online Reviews
Don’t underestimate the importance of online reviews, especially for restaurants. The fact is that 92% of diners look at restaurant reviews. 33% of diners won’t even visit a restaurant if their reviews average less than four stars on platforms like Google and Yelp. Additionally, 77% of consumers tend to favor peer reviews over critic reviews, meaning you should value your customers’ ratings as much as a local reporter’s.
As you’re managing reviews, keep an eye on them from various sources. Try to check on them frequently to see what people are saying. If you see new reviews, acknowledge the positive ones and thank them.
At the same time, avoid getting overly involved in the negative reviews. Provide a thoughtful response if you feel it’s warranted, but avoid starting a public feud. Keep in mind that customers may give your restaurant a chance to satisfy them if they appreciate your response to even the most discouraging reviews. You might be surprised to see how forgiving some people are if a business acknowledges complaints and promises to improve.
2. Ask and Ye Shall Receive
In addition to monitoring and responding to customer reviews, do your best to encourage them. Ask regulars and past customers to leave good reviews if they enjoyed their dining experience. People will be more inclined to leave a positive review for the businesses they love. They may also wind up taking pictures of menu items or your restaurant to accompany them, which can showcase your cuisine while supplementing your own images.
If people leave positive reviews for your restaurant, be sure to feature them on your website. Include a review here or there across multiple pages, or you can even create a page dedicated to them.
Some people might visit your website before conducting further research outside of it, so including positive reviews can more effectively leave people with an excellent first impression.
3. Monitor Other Mentions of Your Restaurant
While checking for online reviews, you can also look for mentions of your restaurant in more informal posts or comments.
For example, you could set up Google Alerts or use certain social monitoring tools for mentions outside of actual reviews. If you find that people are leaving some positive comments on social media, in blogs, or on other platforms, acknowledge them, thank them for the comments, and share them.
You’ll definitely want to share positive comments on social media platforms with your following because this will reassure them that you’re doing your best to provide a great experience. Sharing these responses via social media could also remind and encourage past customers to return to you in the near future.
4. Keep Your Online Presence Up to Date and Active
People will always turn to Google first before learning anything about your business, so it’s important to make sure you keep all of your information up to date. This will help you minimize any potential confusion as people research your restaurant.
For example, if your business hours change, reflect this change across all platforms. If a customer sees one set of business hours on your Google My Business listing that’s different from your actual hours, customers could wind up calling or ordering online only to find that you’re inexplicably closed. Additionally, update any altered, added, or removed menu items on every platform. Failure to do so could lead to some more disappointed — and ultimately deterred — customers.
It’s equally crucial to stay active online. If you have any social media profiles, keep them active with:
- Regular updates on internal changes
- Local events and community initiatives you’re involved in
- Staff milestones and/or achievements
- Other goings-on that are worth posting
Again, these updates could reach past customers and entice them to pay a visit again soon. You’ll even help attract new customers. Conversely, if your social media profiles are outdated and seemingly abandoned, this could turn people away.
Also, understand that many customers may still have some safety concerns around the ongoing pandemic. To reassure your customers, consider discussing steps you’re taking to keep diners safe throughout this period of uncertainty. You could post updates on social media based on CDC or local guidelines, or you can dedicate a page on your website to COVID precautions. Examples of precautions could include requiring employees to wear masks or get vaccinated, along with no-contact delivery.
5. Regularly Survey Guests and Make Improvements
People love it when restaurant owners actively show that they care about customers’ input and are willing to make changes based on their feedback.
To start with, include an invitation to a survey on your receipts, whether for dine-in, carry-out, or delivery. Many customers are likely to provide a response to surveys, particularly if they feel strongly about their experience. If you can’t add it to your receipts, you can automate a survey that delivers within X hours or days after an order is complete to catch them while the experience is still fresh in their minds.
In an effort to prevent more negative responses, actually act on the feedback you receive. This will make people feel like their opinions and thoughts are truly heard, and they’ll be less inclined to post negative reviews on public platforms. You may even turn some customers completely around with a subsequent experience that leaves them satisfied. In turn, this could essentially replace potentially negative reviews with positive ones.
6. Focus on the Positive
As a restaurant owner, you’re likely concerned about receiving negative reviews, especially ones that seem unfair and unwarranted. While many customers may be misbehaving in restaurants these days — often leading to negative responses to even the best customer service — it’s in your best interest to stay optimistic. Take a step back and refrain from reading negative reviews if the negativity becomes overwhelming.
These are difficult times for everyone, so prioritize your own well-being for the sake of both you and your restaurant!
If needed, take a mental health break and spend some time focusing on other matters that don’t make your blood boil or discourage you. Focus on positive reviews and take a deep breath before responding to those less-than-favorable ones. You can also boost morale among your staff by sharing the good. In doing so, you’ll be able to maintain your overall health while benefiting your business.
Enable Your Restaurant to Thrive With Effective Reputation Management
By investing sufficient time and energy into building and maintaining your restaurant’s online reputation, you’ll be able to appeal to both new and existing customers. Over time, you could become one of the hottest spots in your service areas.
If you want to get the most from your efforts, consider working with 9Fold to enhance your online ordering system and customer experience. With the help of our innovative restaurant software, you can drive direct orders from your restaurant and keep customers coming back to you.
To learn more about our solution and what it can do for your restaurant, book a demo today!