Nothing creates buzz around a restaurant than tons of positive online reviews. It’s no longer so much about professional reviews, or even word-of-mouth recommendations. These days, diners expect to be able to read feedback from large numbers of past customers. This allows them to build up a full picture of what a restaurant offers, its ambience and even their best dishes before they set foot through the door.
So how do you make sure you have enough reviews of your restaurant to help make sure you’re fully booked as much as possible? Here, we look at a few of the tips and tricks restaurants use to boost their positive review numbers. And don’t worry, they are all very much above board!
Why are reviews so important?
According to research, 82% of consumers read online reviews of local businesses before making decisions, with a third of those under 54 doing so every day. And it’s not just your reputation and popularity that’s at stake. A Harvard Business School study found that an increase of just one star in your Yelp score results in a 9% increase in profits.
The good, the bad and the ugly – how to deal with negative feedback
The trouble with reviews and feedback is that some of it might be bad. Not everyone can get everything right all the time and there will always be customers who are unhappy for one reason or another.
How you deal with these negative reviews can actually be an opportunity to demonstrate good customer service. It’s never a good idea to reply to negative reviews right away after reading them. They are likely to make your blood boil and it’s better to give yourself some time to reflect before hitting that ‘reply’ button.
When you do finally respond, which is a good way to try to reduce the impact of a negative review, set out facts calmly and say you are sorry that they did not enjoy the experience. Noting that you will pass on the comments can be useful, along with an offer to have them back at a later date to show them how well the restaurant usually operates.
Secrets to getting more online reviews
You have to be present and relevant online to attract reviews
This is a fundamental part of attracting reviews. Few people will bother reviewing a restaurant that doesn’t have an active online presence. You will be quickly written off as the kind of establishment that doesn’t care about reviews or about engaging with customers.
If you have an up-to-date social media presence and even a regularly updated blog on your website, you will be seen as more ‘switched on’ to receiving reviews and reading them. You should also keep all your contact details up to date, as well as things like your opening hours, menus and contact details in order to drum up more interest and engagement from existing and potential customers.
Offer an incentive
This one may raise a few eyebrows here and there, but we assure you, if done in the correct way, there is nothing unethical about offering incentives for reviews. That is, providing you aren’t offering the incentives for positive reviews alone.
A good way to provide incentives is to enter anyone who leaves a review into a prize draw for a free meal, for example. This is also a way to make sure that the winner returns for another visit, helping to turn them into a regular customer.
Ask customers to leave reviews soon after they have left
There are a number of ways you can contact diners soon after they have left your restaurant to ask them to leave a review. There’s social media, there’s email or text message or there’s good old snail mail. But those of us who have embraced on-table ordering and interactive restaurant menu technology may even be able to send notifications directly to customers’ phones for up to eight hours after they left, without them having to download anything to their phones at all.
Leslie’s on-table ordering technology does just this and can provide the ideal, non-obtrusive way to gently remind customers who have just dined with you, to leave a review. You can also offer incentives, such as discounted future meals, at this point, of course.
Talk to loyal customers
Approaching your most loyal customers might be among the best ways to start ‘fishing’ for reviews. Regular customers with whom you have built a solid relationship are most likely to happily review your restaurant positively.
Many regular customers may assume that you don’t need reviews or that you might not appreciate a review. Let them know that you would be very happy if they wrote one.
Engage with people who leave reviews
One of the best ways to ensure you get more reviews is to engage with those who do leave reviews. Most people will welcome a quick response thanking them for their custom and for the positive words. Also, if you can offer any personal comments, demonstrating that you remember them, this might even encourage future repeat visits. Remember, visitors can become regulars with just a little effort from you.
And once you have the reviews – promote them!
Once you have managed to drum up a good number of positive reviews, put some time and effort into promoting them. Diners who like to do research into where they will eat out next are always eager to read reviews on your website and will expect you to highlight good reviews in your social content or even inside your restaurant itself.
Turn your reviews into user-generated content
User-generated content is some of the most valuable social media content you can put out there. Feel free to pull reviews from Google, Tripadvisor and Yelp to help boost your social content.
- Use an online graphic design tool to turn review snippets into an attractive quote graphic.
- Display quotes alongside customer photos to bring them to life.
- Use customer’s photos as social posts.
- Let reviewers know that they are being featured on your social platforms and invite interaction.
Reviews are the lifeblood of the restaurant business, and attracting honest reviews can help you to compete and stand out in a highly competitive marketplace. Now it’s up to you to maintain the standards needed to keep your customers so happy that they want to share their experiences with others.