Your restaurant’s online ratings and reviews are important to monitor. Most consumers check reviews and ratings before visiting a business, so your online presence can seriously affect whether or not a customer converts.
But what do you do if you have poor ratings online or bad reviews bringing down your restaurant’s reputation? There are a few tactics you can take to improve your restaurant’s reputation online.
Do Restaurant Ratings Matter?
In a word, yes, restaurants’ online ratings do matter. Many statistics show that almost all consumers do online research before patronizing businesses, like one from Podium that says that 93% of consumers say online reviews have an effect on their purchasing choices. Another from ReviewTrackers says that 94% have avoided a business based on negative reviews.
A different ReviewTrackers survey also found that 1 in 3 diners will not eat at a restaurant with a rating of three stars or less out of five.
Most people searching for restaurants or other businesses online will likely visit a business in the next 24 hours. If potential customers find that you have bad ratings, it could hurt your business and deter new customers. That’s why it’s important to monitor your restaurant’s online presence and improve it wherever possible.
How To Boost Restaurant Ratings
Now that you recognize the importance of online ratings and reviews for your website, how do you improve them? Consider these strategies when you find low ratings or bad reviews.
Take Customer Comments Seriously
The best way to improve online ratings is to improve your restaurant. Sometimes, you may get poor reviews from bitter, disgruntled customers. It’s not useful to write off all bad reviews as a fluke, however. Very often, low ratings and reviews may speak to an issue at your restaurant.
Take bad reviews and low ratings seriously. If there’s a common theme in the complaints, it may be something that you didn’t realize that your restaurant needs to improve upon. If one person complains that their service was too slow, it could have just been a mistake or a bad day. If several are complaining of slow service, however, you may need to look into speeding up your processes.
Use low ratings to learn more about how your restaurant works for customers. While no one wants bad reviews, the present a great learning opportunity and suggestions for improvement. Don’t dismiss poor reviews as silly complaints, and you may be able to significantly improve customer satisfaction at your restaurant.
Monitor Review Sites and Mentions
Regularly check in on your restaurant’s online presence. Some restaurant review sites allow you to claim your business and can send alerts about reviews, but others you’ll have to remember to check manually.
You can also set up a Google alert for mentions of your restaurant, or search on social media channels for mentions. This way, you don’t miss anything.
Keeping an eye on your restaurant’s online reputation can help you weed out poor reviews faster, so you can make sure that your ratings don’t drop too low. It also allows you to respond faster, whether it’s online or by fixing an issue at your restaurant so that it doesn’t happen again.
Respond to Reviews Online
One of the best ways to keep customers happy is to respond to reviews online. This shows that you are engaged and interested in their feedback, which can build customer loyalty. Customers who post reviews online want to feel heard, so responding can ensure that they feel appreciated by your restaurant. This will increase the chance that they return!
You should respond to both positive and negative reviews online. Responding to positive reviews shows that you appreciate their business and their nice comments, and engages with happy customers.
Responding to negative reviews shows that you do care about the customer’s experience. Apologizing or offering a solution or a perk like a discount off their next meal can turn a bad review into a good one. At the very least, it proves that you care enough to reach out to customers.
Ask Customers for Reviews
To counteract bad ratings, you’ll need more positive ones. Start asking customers to leave positive reviews if they had a good experience! Servers can ask their tables to leave reviews, or even leave small cards that encourage comments. If you collect information like email addresses or phone numbers, it’s even easier to contact customers after their meal to ask for a review.
You can promote reviews through your website, blog, emails, and in person. Asking for reviews will likely increase the number of positive reviews, since those with a bad experience are already more likely to voice their concerns. It’s important that you aren’t pushy when asking for reviews, however, as it may turn a previously happy customer sour.
Another way to generate more reviews and get customer information is through your restaurant’s WiFi. There are WiFi services that require users to sign in with an email address and that allow you to navigate them to a certain website when they sign in. Here, you can ask for a review when they log in. You can also use their email or other info to follow up later.
How To Respond to Negative Reviews
If you decide to engage with negative reviews online, you should do so carefully. While we do recommend this tactic, it’s important that you do it the right way to make the customer feel better, not worse, about their experience.
While you can defend your restaurant if you feel the customer is seriously misguided, it’s better to simply apologize for their dissatisfaction. Getting defensive won’t change the customer’s opinion, and it may look bad. If you are going to contest some part of a review, you may want to message the customer privately to discuss their complaint rather than fight it out on a public forum.
Even if the customer is in the wrong, it will look better to apologize. Arguing with a customer over a complaint may scare off other customers and will not look good for your all around reputation. We recommend apologizing for their bad experience, acknowledging their complaint, and then moving further procedures offline if needed. You may also want to cite a company policy or restaurant mission that contradicts their complaint without saying they were wrong. For example,
“We’re so sorry to hear about your experience at our establishment. Our policy is to serve the customer needs first, and we are usually known for our great customer service. We regret failing to live up to expectations and our own standards. If you’re open to discussing this further, please contact us at . . .”
This acknowledges the customer’s complaint while still maintaining that it is not your typical service. Once they’ve contacted you separately through a private channel, you can do more to rectify the situation, figure out what actually happened, and offer some sort of apology perk if needed. Offering a discount off a meal can go a long way to bring them back to your restaurant and make amends.
Improve Your Restaurant’s Ratings
Use these tactics to get more positive reviews and boost your restaurant’s star rating. A study from the University of California – Berkeley found that even a half star rating increase on Yelp can make it 19% more likely that your restaurant will be booked during peak hours. The stats don’t lie and it’s really quite simple – a good online presence will improve sales at your restaurant.