Growing your business
How To Use Reviews To Boost Your Restaurant
There are now over 30,000 restaurants in the UK alone, meaning competition within the industry is high and the battle to stand out from the crowd is strong. In order to compete effectively, restaurant owners need to be armed with some smart tools of the trade. And one of the most powerful assets for promoting your restaurant is word of mouth.
A West London chef who has been working in the industry for more than 20 years says, “Everyone looks at online reviews: it’s like Pandora’s box, you can’t help it. It’s an instant barometer and it’s been incredibly useful for us. My customers are coming here and paying to eat, so if it’s not 100%, I want to know about it.”
And with research showing that online reviews impact 67.7% of respondents' purchasing decisions, now is the perfect time for businesses to harness the power of the internet and use it to their advantage.
We’ve put together a few tips to help you get started:
Make It Easy
To encourage reviews effectively, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for customers to leave them, so make it clear from your website that customers are able to leave reviews and that they should do! One way to do this is by showcasing some of your existing reviews by embedding them from sites such as TripAdvisor or Yelp.
You could also use links to these sites, and include them in any online exchanges with customers or on your landing pages so they always know where to go when they want to leave feedback. For example, to get more Google reviews, you can search your restaurant in Google and click on the button ‘Write a review’. You’ll then see the review box pop up. Simply copy this URL and use it as a direct link to share with your customers! If you haven’t claimed your restaurant as a business listing on Google yet then you can find out how here.
Although some businesses are hesitant to do this, asking your customers for reviews is perfectly acceptable and really does work. One way to do this is by handing out cards to your guests with instructions on how they can leave a review or give feedback at the end of their visit. This can also be included at the bottom of receipts and in email footers so that customers can go and leave a review while the experience is still fresh in their mind. If you already have existing relationships with regular customers then you could also ask them in person - after all, these are more likely to be positive!
Offering incentives makes customers feel like leaving a review is more of an exchange, in which they get something in return for leaving their thoughts with your business. Leaving a review could result in a discount, free bottle of wine or side, or entry into a competition to win a prize. However, whilst it can be productive to encourage reviews, make sure you don't suggest in any way that reviews should be positive as this could look more like bribery. Instead, remain neutral and use phrases like ‘Let us know what you thought’ or ‘Give us your feedback’.
Use Social Media
Using social media as a tool to promote your positive reviews will help to spread them to potential customers far and wide. One way to do this is by searching for positive mentions of your restaurant on social media and then retweeting them to your own followers; as seen by seafood restaurant Ondine who regularly retweet positive reviews on their Twitter page. If your restaurant hasn’t been tagged in a mention then you can search for comments about your restaurant by using social listening tools.
Don’t Ignore Negative Reviews
A disheartening as it can be to receive a negative review, ignoring it certainly won’t solve the problem. Instead, take on board what your customer has said reply with reason and, if possible, with some sort of resolution to their complaint. Always finish by saying that you appreciate their feedback and will certainly be looking into the matter to make sure any issues are rectified. Let’s say a customer has complained that they had to wait a long time for their food and when it was brought out it was cold. An example of a good response could be:
First of all we’re really sorry that you had a bad experience with us and we really appreciate your feedback and raising this issue with us. At busy times, service can be a little slower than usual but this shall certainly be raised with staff so we can see what went wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again. As for the food being brought out cold, we completely agree that this is unacceptable and shall be looking into this right away. If you have any questions or would like to talk about this further then you can reach me directly on this number XXXX. Once again, we’re really sorry to hear about your experience and hope it won’t put you off returning again. Many thanks, Restaurant Manager.
Although getting started with reviews can be tricky, being proactive in the way that you approach them means that you can soon start building up a collection of positive reviews to benefit your business!