Customer ratings: they're one of the most important elements of your business. Satisfied customers are more likely to share their experience at your restaurant in a way that will bring in their friends, coworkers, and family members, while dissatisfied customers will warn everyone they know away from your restaurant. Thanks to today's highly digital society, both happy customers and unhappy ones have a wider reach than ever--and more people are turning to those online reviews to help shape the way they choose what restaurants they'll visit, from those out-of-town tourist visits to people looking for a new place to eat in their own backyards.
The Rise of Information
Review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Zomato are all filled with information about restaurants--including real reviews from actual customers. Savvy customers are checking these websites before they choose the restaurants they're going to choose to visit, looking for more information about food choices, customer satisfaction, and more. They want to know what type of food you serve, the kind of atmosphere they can expect, and what type of service you typically deliver to your customers--and that information is at their fingertips thanks to the prevalence of these sites.
How It Impacts You
The average star rating your restaurant receives can have a big impact on your overall revenue. A high star rating can increase your revenue by as much as 5-9%--a substantial difference for many restaurants. This number will vary based on the type of restaurant and the area it's in: areas with high amounts of tourist traffic, for example, may be influenced more heavily by star ratings than those in areas that see few tourists. There are also a few key areas to take into consideration when it comes to your reviews.
What do your lowest reviews say about your restaurant? Customers can become dissatisfied for a range of reasons: the food wasn't to their liking; they had a bad server; it was an extremely crowded night. Savvy customers won't let a couple of low star ratings influence their overall picture of your restaurant.
Do the reviews ring true? Customers are looking for reviews from people who appear to have really been to your restaurant, not artificial reviews created just for the sake of boosting a star rating. Genuine reviews from satisfied customers are much more beneficial to your restaurant than generic reviews that could have been created by anyone.
What is your average star ranking? A few outliers are less important than your overall star rating, which tends to give customers a decent look at what makes your restaurant stand out--both for good and for bad.
How do you deal with negative reviews? Does a negative customer experience lead to bad publicity, or do you go out of your way to provide customers with what you can to make them happier even when their restaurant experience didn't go according to plan?
Not All Restaurants are Created Equal
For chain restaurants that can be found across the country, star ratings on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have comparatively little impact on their overall revenue. Customers who are looking for chain restaurants expect the same type of experience from that restaurant that they've had with others like it in the past. Not only are they less likely to need to visit a review site to learn more about those restaurants, but they're more likely to ignore bad reviews about a franchise that they've enjoyed eating at in the past. Independent restaurants, on the other hand, need the additional traffic from review sites to help them make more effective decisions.
Building a great library of customer reviews for your restaurant is a critical part of helping to improve your brand. Encourage customers to leave reviews when they're happy. As you build that review library, you'll substantially improve your potential worth to customers who are looking for a restaurant in your area.