Updated: Jun 19, 2020
Who does not have access to the internet in this day and age?
People are becoming more tactful and wiser now when it comes to choosing what restaurant are they going to visit next.
They use online reviews to check first and decide if they should go for it or not, especially if it will be their first time to come to that establishment.
People nowadays are using the internet to see your restaurant even before they go there physically.
They somehow can "taste" your food and get a grasp of your service without them actually being there.
By now, as a restaurant owner, you should have realized how important it is for your business to build a good online reputation.
However, we can not control what our customers would put in those review sites or social media platforms so we must ensure that we give exceptional customer service all the time.
This way, we can be confident that whatever people read online will be more of the positive than the negative feedback because these people reading those can possibly be our next customers.
Online reviews and online reputation management is simply word of mouth on steroids.
Words that last free years because whatever people put on different sites become a permanent record of it.
It is not just like somebody is talking to somebody else and then slips away. But people leave these words online and thousands and thousands of customers for years to come will read them and their decisions will be influenced by those reviews.
Now that can be a bad thing or a good thing, right?
However, you must remember that even negative reviews can provide you with positive opportunities only if you handle your online management system well.
For now, let's focus on how we can turn any review that is placed on our site into a business opportunity.
How can we convert online reviews into sales? First, I want you to realize 3 things:
1. It's complimentary, they are free customer feedback!
Do you know that there are companies like Secret Shopper or Mystery Shopper that offers services for people to give us feedback and pay for it?
But our customers are paying us to come to our restaurant and they go online and give us reviews and we don't have to pay them for that, right?
Our customers are giving us free feedback, we don't have to spend anything for it! So look at the bright side!
2. It's a direct way to interact with customers, they are an excuse to engage!
In this day and age, it is critical, particularly if you are not a multi-billion dollar restaurant franchise, that you show that you are a business that can engage with its customers.
You must look at every review as a reason to engage with people.
Consider it as an opportunity to directly interact with people.
When a customer is starting to converse with us online and on all of these platforms, you have to view it as a chance for you to get to know each other better.
Unlike other companies, we can be more personal and relatable so it's great for us to communicate with our customers in a somewhat public setting.
3. It's an increase in sales, they are an opportunity for repeat business!
Again, even if it is a negative review, it is nevertheless an opportunity for repeat business.
Research shows that 70% of people who leave a negative review online are still willing to give us another shot. Well, give them a reason to!
Customers went online complaining about something, whether it's our service or the food, you must provide them a reason to give us a second chance.
Ask them, for example, "Hey, we would love to treat you with a complimentary dessert, we would like to give you a free gift certificate, please send us an email, we would like to ask you to give us another opportunity to make things right."
Give them an incentive to give you another shot so you are not losing that customer.
The value of the customer over the year is what we need to be looking at.
Let's say, for instance, a customer spends $50 dining in or ordering in your restaurant a month, so for a year, that's $600.
If you give a $20 refund versus losing that customer, do you think that it only makes sense to strongly consider a reimbursement?
Yes, it's all worth it! So now, let's get to the point, this is how we use online reviews to grow our restaurant sales:
We respond to every single review or comments/social media communication.
If somebody comments on it, I'll go in and like their comments and I will comment on their comment, like saying, "Thank you for your comment" because not everybody does that.
Many people see your posts and nobody responds. So you need to encourage what you want to see more off, focus on it.
So any communication that comes our way, we respond, specifically to online reviews. Whether it's a positive or a negative review, we go in and offer an incentive as a token of appreciation.