Proactively Manage Online Customer Reviews

These days it seems like everyone is a critic. Restaurateurs, for better or worse, are faced with realities of online user reviews and social media. It is difficult to sift through the multitude of comments of online user review sites. On one hand it can be nothing more than a sounding board for those who fancy themselves as foodies to a restaurant critic space for others. In a very positive way, it is a forum for the most important person in the restaurant world, the customer. If the experience is good, then the reviews will be positive. Conversely, if the customer experience is negative, then it is time to take a look at making the necessary improvements to making your restaurant a success.

Tips for dealing with online reviews:

1. Don’t take it personally.

2. Be aware. Online reviews and social media are here to stay so don’t ignore what they are telling you.

3. Take care in responding. If you choose to respond, make sure to do so privately to avoid unintentional public disagreements. Respond quickly, and appropriately. And always remember what is online, stays online.

4. Share. Make sure to keep employees and staff in the loop. Positive feedback boosts morale, while negative feedback can bring light to issues that need to be addressed.

5. Utilize the services of the online review sites to capitalize on your advertising and marketing dollars and to increase and attract traffic and tourists.

Pay Attention to What Customers Say

Monitor review websites by using Google Alerts, which is free. Or subscribe to a reputation management service to monitor all mentions of your company across the Web. Some review websites will even notify you via email when new reviews are posted.

Generate More Reviews, More Often

Most satisfied customers won’t take the time to post a review unless you specifically ask them to. Make it easy by signing up for an online service that automatically emails your customers to request they submit a review. This simple technique has proven to dramatically increase the number of positive reviews you can generate. These services can link to your customer database so you know the reviews are from your actual and recent customers.

Promote Your Reputation Across the Web

Make sure that a ‘read my reviews’ button is prominently displayed on your website and on social media pages. This provides a compelling call-to-action for customers to read and also write reviews. To get started, create a separate web page that lists your reviews, preferably updated automatically or linked directly to your business’ profiles on reviews sites. You can also add links to your reviews in a customer newsletter or in a promotion.

Respond Quickly, Personally, and Appropriately

Create a policy for responding to negative reviews and designate one person to act as the spokesperson in these situations. When a negative review appears, respond in a timely fashion, ideally via a private message, assuming you can determine the reviewer’s identity and contact details. Acknowledge their dissatisfaction, describe how you plan to resolve the cause of it, and invite them back for a discounted or even a free service. Successful restaurant owners, goes a step further. They refund the customer’s entire purchase when they are dissatisfied. They sees the monetary loss as a necessary expense in defending the reputation of their business. If the customer doesn’t respond, or isn’t willing to let you compensate them for the negative experience, craft a thoughtful public response to the review that explains how you have fixed the problem and attempted to resolve the situation with the customer.

People weigh the opinions of others heavily, even when they don’t know them. That said, they are more likely to trust a business owner who takes time to respond to reviews with the goal of improving their service. Customers will naturally gravitate to businesses that display a human element. Remember, when it comes to managing customer reviews and promoting your reputation, the best defense is always a good offense.

It is vital to the success of your business to promote your reputation across online review and social media sites. Encourage your guests to provide feedback often, making it easy and accessible can drive good reviews and give you the best kind of promotion.

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