Word of mouth is nothing new, and it’s tried and true.
You provide customers with an experience, they talk to their friends about that experience, then those people either choose to visit your restaurant or stay away.
Restaurant review sites are just word of mouth through the world’s biggest megaphone.
Most restaurant-goers regularly look at online reviews to help them make decisions about where to eat. Here’s what we know about how restaurant review sites influence decision making, based on our How Diners Choose Restaurants report:
So it’s safe to say you should be taking the time to claim your business on restaurant review sites. The process of claiming your business is usually as simple as filling out a form, and it means you own your own profile on the review site. Some platforms charge a fee, others are free to use.
Be found: Ensure your business information (address, website, contact info, hours, menu) is up to date so people searching by location or category can find you.
Boost search rankings: The more reviews your business has, the higher your business will rank on Google. When searching, users usually only look at the first few search results, so it’s important you rank as highly as possible.
Build relationships with customers: Thanking positive reviewers is a great way to solidify their great experience with you. And when you address issues raised in a negative review, you’ll be more likely to turn a displeased customer’s opinion around.
Improve your business: Reviews tell you how customers experience your restaurant. When you’re paying attention to online reviews, you’re getting insight into what’s working and what’s not, so you know which menu items to promote and how to improve customer experience.
Reward your employees: Reviewers sometimes mention servers by name. If you start to notice a pattern, reward your star employees for their amazing performance!
Here’s an infographic on major restaurant review sites, so you can prioritize the ones that matter most to your business:
Claiming your business is step one, but maintaining your page is an ongoing job. Here’s how to do it.
The do’s and don’ts of managing your business page
Managing your page on online review sites is like being a fly-on-the-wall. You have a massive advantage and an enormous responsibility.
The key to responding to negative reviews is to acknowledge the reviewer’s experience and offer a proactive solution.
Patrick Kirchen, owner of Crossings in South Pasadena, California, says in an article in FSR Magazine, “I never respond publically on Yelp,” Kirchen says. “I only respond to negative reviews, and out of 380 total reviews, I’ve probably responded to 20. I don’t offer free dinners or anything. I just apologize and say I’d love for them to give us another chance. I invite them to email and discuss their issue, but I’ve never gotten an email.”
Stay professional and proactive, even when a review is particularly nasty. A timely, thoughtful, professional response can sway a disgruntled customer’s opinion and mitigate any damage to your restaurant’s reputation.
Now more than ever, people are keen to share their best experiences with their online networks.
A simple thank you goes a long way to building an ongoing relationship with happy customers.
Go ahead and #humblebrag. Share your best reviews on your restaurant’s website or social media channels. Tag the original reviewer in your post for bonus engagement points.
Taking part in the online chatter about your business is intimidating – but done right, it’s incredibly rewarding.
Claiming your business on online review sites gives you unprecedented access to your customers before and after they visit your restaurant. That kind of access is a valuable asset to growing your brand and building lasting relationships with your customers. And to be honest, it’s also really, really fun.