In today’s wired world where everyone has immediate access to the internet, it’s no secret that customer reviews and ratings are hugely important to any business, especially in the restaurant industry. These ratings can bring a wealth of valuable information to informed restaurant owners who understand how to respond to them.
Whether good or bad, the data you can gather from customer ratings and reviews can be put to good use, supporting the good and, more importantly, placing emphasis on resolving the bad.
Where to Find Customer Reviews and Ratings
There are several popular restaurant rating and review websites which can easily be found with a quick Google search. However, the ratings you find on these websites may not be entirely accurate.
According to Time.com, customer ratings are dominated by 5’s and 1’s and largely lack anything in the middle. This is due to the fact that most customers who are strongly compelled to leave a review either had an amazing experience, or a terrible one. Those who had a realistic or ordinary experience simply lack the motivation to leave any kind of review.
When it comes to making effective business decisions, it is smart to gather your customer ratings and reviews through your own channels. This is why it is so important to establish and maintain an open relationship with your customer base, through avenues like WiFi marketing, email newsletters or social media. These channels are extremely valuable to your business when it comes to gathering honest ratings you can trust. And they come from those who are not simply determined to give you a 1 or a 5 based on a single experience.
What is the best part about this strategy? All you have to do is ask them for it. Then you can use the data to improve and maintain an overall positive customer experience.
According to a 2017 BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey, 68 percent of consumer respondents actually left a local business review when asked - with 74 percent of them having been asked. The study also showed that responding to these ratings and reviews is more important than ever.
How to Respond to Customer Ratings
A study by TNS NIPO researched over 2,000 negative online customer ratings and concluded that, overall 70 percent of complainants hope to receive a response, while just 38% receive one. According to TNS NIPO, the success of the response is determined by 3 factors:
- The speed of the customer review response time
- The quality of the solution provided to the customer
- How the response is provided, and how genuine the response is perceived
In addition, the willingness of consumers to consequently recommend the brand again can be doubled (3.4 to 7.2) by combining these three factors effectively.
Based on these findings, it is important to stay on top of your customer ratings and respond to them quickly. How you respond is up to the restaurant manager or owner, but many offer a free appetizer or drink to get the customer back into the establishment so they will have a chance to rectify any less-than-stellar experience.
When directly answering a poor rating or review, it is essential that the customer knows you are responding to them, and the response should convey an earnest, human message. If you succeed in opening a dialog with the customer, don’t hesitate to ask for constructive criticism and suggestions. This will deepen the engagement and can establish a stronger guest relationship.
Plus, many customers might provide great suggestions about different ways to do things, or new product ideas you could offer. By responding appropriately, customers recognize that you truly care about their business, and they may become more loyal to you as a result. Through engagement with the customer, you can gather more data, ask for suggestions and actually increase customer loyalty. A negative can indeed turn into a win-win.
Restaurant managers and owners shouldn’t take negative customer reviews and ratings with a grain of salt. There’s so much you can do to turn them into satisfied, loyal customers.