Start Reading Your Reviews Today
The Internet has never been more integral to the management of a restaurant. Unfortunately, too many managers and operators ignore the online reviews that are posted about them. This is a major mistake and can undermine all the energy and hard work management takes to develop strong relationships with customers. Even the best restaurants in the world are subjected to critical, baseless reviews, and every restaurant can have a bad day.
For this reason, it is critical that managers know what is being said about them. Positive and negative reviews can help managers fine-tune their product and increase the level of service. They can also alert managers to problems within the building that may escape them for awhile. In the end, scanning the Internet once every few days for mentions of your restaurant is a low-cost, high-reward activity that has become a necessity in the last few years.
Managing Your Reputation
We can all shake our weary heads about it, but reputation management is essential in the era of Web 2.0. Most potential customers of most restaurants scan online reviews and comments. The currency of information is more critical than ever. People want to know what they’re spending their money on before walking in the door.
A shaky online reputation has undermined more than a few restaurants. A few unkind reviews at the top of review sites and customer feedback services can discourage hundreds of people, especially of those reviews go without a response from management.
Get Out in Front of Problems
A good response to online reviews demonstrates to customers that you’re serious about correcting problems and taking care of customers who have bad experiences. A response can also point out issues that mitigate or reframe the complaint into something that’s not the restaurant’s fault. Getting out in front of problems is a central mantra for excellence in restaurant management, and nowhere is it more important than with online reviews.
Reach Out to Customers
Responding to reviews adds to the sort of dialogue that restaurants are built on and demonstrates this commitment to customers who read this dialogue online. The nature of the business is that it’s difficult to reach out to customers outside the four walls of the building. For most managers, there is not enough time in the day to spread the message about the business.
Learn Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Feedback from in-store diners is not always candid and may overlook a few important details, especially in a quick table visit or as guests are walking out the front door. Online reviews are usually candid and tend to pull no punches. Reviewers may exaggerate or focus on one minor point. But this can be helpful feedback in an environment where seeing every detail of the business is a constant uphill battle.
Reviews can be positive and fun to read. Reading a glowing online review can make your day, and it’s helpful to post these in the building for employees to see, especially when they tout the work of someone who is deserving of praise.
Keep it to a Minimum
There are a few ways to help minimize the threat of logging on one day and seeing a spate of newly posted reviews throwing your business under the bus. A few of them include:
- Visiting as many tables as possible during service
- Tucking comment cards into check presenters
- Asking diners about their experience as they leave
- Following up with negative feedback or comment cards
Many negative reviews are a result of a bad experience slipping through the cracks. Working to give potential complainers an outlet before it festers onto the Internet helps minimize this threat. Be sure to take online reviews seriously to avoid a series of bad ones.