Social and review management has become an incredibly important part of the marketing mix in the restaurant industry, thanks to the growing proportion of online searches for dining experiences, as well as the increase in patrons making online reservations. The reality is that no matter how strong the brand experience strategy, unless this area is carefully managed, it can be rendered ineffective by a poor online reputation.
Against this backdrop, there are three major areas of transformation emerging in the industry that reflect the growing impact of online reviews, including:
- Word of mouth traditionally impacts the performance of restaurants. It is now playing out online in the form of reviews and dining experiences shared on social media.
- At the pub and restaurant facility level, Google My Business pages are increasingly becoming their shop window. This is especially important to restaurants where online reservations have also grown dramatically.
- Expectations of dining guests are on the rise. They expect to communicate with restaurants via any number of channels and gain a quick response, whether via Facebook, Instagram, Tripadvisor, Google or any number of other channels.
Today, the biggest opportunity for restaurants is to ensure that all customer feedback is seen as valuable and that guests always receive a response and assurance that their feedback is acknowledged and addressed. After all, restaurant patrons are much more likely to be a brand advocate when they can see that they are valued. Following are three best practices restaurants can follow to manage online reviews.
- Google has claimed the top spot in review volume. In fact, according to a Review Trackers survey, 63.6 percent of consumers say they are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business. Recently, Google has leapt ahead of other review sites such as Yelp and Tripadvisor. Given its dominance in review volume, restaurants should focus on soliciting reviews on Google. They can request this verbally or through a platform that automates review requests.
- Make managing reviews easier by consolidating all review information via a reputation management platform like Reputation.com. Then, respond to as many as possible (including all negative reviews) in a timely fashion. This not only enhances restaurants’ online reputation and social sentiment, but it also clarifies what needs to happen to improve service and dining experiences.
- Rely on a reputation management platform to monitor which restaurant team member responds to a review and how quickly. Use the information to fine tune response rates and identify areas of improvement in responses.
Managing online reputation is transformational to operations. When restaurant teams read every review, such attention leads to many small changes that drive continuous improvements to dining guests’ experiences. Ultimately, listening to customers and gaining insight into their sentiment will not only ensure they’ll be back to your restaurant for seconds, but that they’ll spread the word about your establishment.