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The Importance Of Customer Reviews For Your Restaurant

Today’s customers often turn to online resources to conduct their own research before making a purchasing decision. In fact, a survey completed by Dimensional Research found that when making a purchase, 88% of customers are influenced by an online review.

Providing a great dining experience and making customers feel special can help generate positive recognition for your restaurant, and encouraging customers to complete online reviews can help position your restaurant above your competition.

Here are some of the ways that positive and negative reviews can impact your restaurant and suggestions on how you can manage both:

Positive Reviews

In our internet-driven world, a strong online presence is important to help your restaurant stand out.

Talk to any digital marketing expert and they will tell you that there a variety of ways to boost your online presence, and one of the most important way is by gaining positive online reviews.

Positive online reviews can impact Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which helps Google and other search engines decide how to rank search results. Positive reviews can help boost the search results for your restaurant.

It is important to remember that your current and prospective customers may use review websites, such as Google, Yelp, or TripAdvisor. Customers turn to online reviews for information and they trust the experience of a previous customer – if their experience was worth taking the time to write an online review it can often have the power to convince a new customer to visit.

Responding to Positive Reviews

Engaging with customers who are already excited about your restaurant is the perfect way to create a loyal following. Additionally, when you take the time to respond to positive reviews, your company name, location, and any keywords you wish to highlight will positively impact your SEO ranking; when Google ranks a business, it looks specifically at the nature, volume, and consistency of reviews. The more positive and engaging reviews that your restaurant receives, the more it will help to increase your online presence.

When responding to positive reviews, here is an approach you can follow:

  • Refer to the reviewer by name and thank them for their review – let them know their kind review did not go unnoticed.
  • Vary the way you express gratitude – use different kinds of wording to let customers know that you took the time to read and absorb their feedback, and are not responding with a generic template.
  • Reference specifics from their review – by referencing a specific such as the friendliness of a server, you practice active listening. This type of two-way conversation comes across as genuine and shows that you took the time to read and digest their review.
  • Share a thoughtful signoff – you want to foster a loyal relationship, and signing off with a positive sentiment can set the tone for a return visit.

Negative Reviews

Just as a positive review can have an impact on your restaurant, so can a negative one.

A Zendesk survey revealed that 86% of potential customers would not purchase services from a business with negative reviews. Additionally, a single negative review can drive away approximately 22% of customers, whereas around three negative reviews can drive away 59% of the customers.  

Making customer satisfaction an essential part of your business will positively impact your reputation and profitability. Taking the time to monitor online reviews needs to be a part of your daily routine.

If you happen to come across a negative review, here is an approach you can follow:

  • Acknowledge the problem – make sure you validate their experience, even if you may disagree. It is important that you use this as an opportunity to regain their trust, and arguing will alienate them and other potential customers.
  • Apologize for their experience – accept responsibility for the experience this customer had, and do not think about deleting the bad review! Keeping bad reviews and responding to them in a professional manner shows that you have nothing to hide.
  • Thank them and focus on the future – make sure to thank this customer for their feedback, as negative reviews can help you figure out what needs to be addressed in your restaurant. Showing you understand the issue, and explaining how you’re going to ensure it doesn’t happen again, is a positive step in helping to rebuild this customer relationship.

Customer reviews are important for your restaurant. Both positive and negative reviews will shape current and prospective customer perspective, so making the time to monitor and respond to reviews should be a regular part of your business practices.

Don’t forget, if you are a BrandPoints Plus member, log into the portal and make sure you have all you need to provide a tasty experience for your customers.