In today’s world, the battle for the soul of your restaurant can be won or lost online. Your intangible assets – brand reputation, goodwill, and ability to do business are now mostly based online. Your online reputation deeply influences how potential visitors perceive your business. It can be the difference between a frequently packed restaurant and one where food often gets thrown out due to low patronage.
The problem that most people have with their restaurant’s reputation is that they often underrate the importance until it’s a little too late. Their reactionary approach often does little to save their ship when it’s damaged, with competition often coming around to finally put them out of business, as in many cases.
Proactive reputation management isn’t an easy feat, though. But here are a few handy tips that’ll help you significantly improve the perceived value of your business.
Tip 1: Post and Update your Listings Regularly
Listings can help you manage your online reputation in many ways. First, they help spread the word about your business, informing potential customers about what you’re up to. In particular, it does a world of good to your local SEO, helping you dominate ‘near me’ search results in your area. Studies show that local SEO is increasingly becoming vital to small businesses. More and more people are increasingly turning to local searches for their immediate needs, and your listings can boost your local search rankings significantly.
Besides enhancing your visibility, listings also provide a means to keep your prospects and customers updated about the latest developments in your business.
You can use them to promote special discounts, holiday offers, etc, and also to inform everyone about upcoming changes to your operations. Regular updates keep customers and prospects engaged and expectant, inspiring and reinforcing brand loyalty.
Tip 2: Solicit for Reviews
Another proactive reputation management tip is going out of your way to solicit reviews. It can help in many ways. First, it’ll help amass those all-essential star ratings. Who doesn’t like seeing a star-spangled profile page? Many studies show that most people do. Did you know that 94% of diners take reviews from other customers as their most important consideration when selecting a restaurant?
Also, nearly one out of three diners say they will not choose a restaurant with an average three-star rating on sites like Google +, Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.
Google loves good star ratings, too. Positive reviews can help you quickly increase your Google page rankings. As you rise in rankings, you also get more organic traffic and probably more diners who’ll leave you more good reviews. It’s a snowballing effect.
Plus, the more positive reviews you accumulate, the less consequential the bad reviews are. Positive reviews help you offset negative reviews, including those posted in places you’re not even aware of.
Ultimately, it pays big time to solicit reviews. Many emerging studies suggest that promoted reviews from verified customers can have a greater impact on shopping decisions compared to unpromoted reviews. That means the benefits listed above may be even more amplified in reality.
It’s always worth going out of your way to collect reviews, even if it costs you time and money. You may need to invest some resources to gather and deploy all the necessary tools and techniques needed to follow up on your customers.
Tip 3: Monitor Online Reviews Regularly
Don’t just solicit for reviews and then leave them unnoticed. You need to actively manage your reviews, checking up on them regularly. They can be a huge source of insights on how to build stronger bonds with your customers and improve their overall experience.
Many tools can help you mine those insights. Customer experience analytics tools should form an essential part of your business intelligence toolkit. You can apply them to improve many aspects of your business, from your marketing to pricing, customer experience, inbound and outbound communication, and lots more.
Positive reviews are marketing assets that you can show off to woo potential diners. Negative reviews are a good source of insight to find and improve areas of weakness. One way or another, every review can benefit your business.
Tip 4: Take on Negative Reviews
Negative reviews are not something you’d want to ignore given their huge significance. They can be a blessing or a curse to your online image. It’s a curse if left to soil your image without any intervention. 94% of customers say they avoid businesses with bad reviews. But bad reviews are a blessing if they end up painting a better image of your business. 44.6% of customers say they’re willing to give a business with negative reviews a try if they respond to the negative reviews.
Generic responses to negative reviews won’t make the cut in most cases. You need to give each bad review a hard look and then respond accordingly to placate the situation. Try your best to respond as early as possible to show how much you care about your customer’s complaints. The average response time for negative comments in the restaurant industry is about three days, but industry leaders with excellent ratings usually take less than 48 hours.
Offer any possible solutions to appease the customer and resolve the case. Use soothing words, but without sounding overly apologetic, and invite them to more conversation offline. Link them up with the proper dispute channels and encourage them to take any reasonable offer that might solve their issues.
Tip 5: Keep an Eye on Your Competitors
Lastly, you’d want to keep tabs on what your competitors are up to. Not to copy them, but to gain inspiration on how to stand out better.
Competitor analysis can help you better understand your customers and how to connect with them more deeply. Even your customers expect you to have a fair knowledge of the competition in your space. 41% of consumers “strongly agree” that competitive intelligence is vital to an organisation’s capacity to stay in business.
Effective competitor analysis requires reliable tools and techniques. But it could be worth the investment when it delivers actionable insights that help propel your business to new heights.
Effective Restaurant Reputation Management is a Vital Success Ingredient
Your online presence is far much more consequential to your restaurant than even just a few years ago. 97% of people now go online to find local businesses for their immediate needs, and a solid online reputation helps you position your business as the go-to service in your area. Besides promoting your visibility, online reputation management also helps your business in many ways, keeping everyone posted about important events and developments in your business, providing a reliable source of valuable insights, and helping increase brand engagement and loyalty among your customers.
The most effective form of reputation management is the most proactive form. Post and update your listings regularly, solicit and monitor reviews, respond to negative reviews, and spy on competitors for insights on how to beat them.
Creating a positive reputation isn’t easy, especially in the competitive restaurant industry, but getting started with the five steps mentioned above can pay off in the long run with great reviews, more customers, and higher revenue.