Responding to online reviews

  • Online reviews have become integral to restaurant marketing.

  • Responding to positive reviews is a chance to let guests know you care, increase SEO, and even attract new customers.
  • Positive reviews should be brief and include the guest’s name and a quick thanks.

  • Responding to negative reviews allows you to seize the situation, mitigate negative influence, and show you care.
  • Remember the 3 C’s of responding to reviews: collected, compassionate, and call to action.

Today, the question for restaurant owners isn’t, “Do they find me online?”, but rather, “What do they find when they find me?”

When it comes to reading online reviews, every restaurant should adopt the mantra of “leaving no stone unturned.” Online review management has become integral to running a successful restaurant, and restaurants particularly should evaluate how responding to their online reviews affects their business. Why? Because 97% of consumers look at online reviews before making purchase decisions. That’s a lot of eyes on your review responses!

In this article we’ll be looking at the why’s and how’s of both negative and positive reviews.

Negative Reviews – Why you should respond

Responding to negative reviews allows you to seize the situation, mitigate negative influence, and show you care. Your response can also give context to the problem. Use this opportunity to prompt actionable steps to resolve the issue privately.

It may not seem like it, but it’s possible to turn negative reviews into revenue. One client of ours received a negative review, responded using the tips below, and the customer came back in for another chance! Not only that, but they even changed their 1-star review to a 5-star review, and ended up as a regular. What could have been a loss of hundreds of dollars, ended up being worth thousands.

Negative Reviews – How you should respond

When responding to negative reviews, remember the 3 C’s: collected, compassionate, call to action.

1) Collected. Reviews should not be taken personally and it’s important to respond with professionalism. Remember, the only thing worse than a 1-star review is a 1-star review with an immature response from the owner beneath it.

2) Compassionate. Try to understand your customer’s perspective and never dismiss their experience. Everyone makes mistakes – it doesn’t make you a bad restaurant! Once you’ve acknowledged their experience, without trying to defend yourself or justify the mistake, be sure to include a brief apology.

3)Call to action. Refer them to a number, email, or webpage where they can provide additional, private feedback. Make sure they know their voice will be heard and action will be taken to improve their personal experience moving forward.

With negative reviews, it’s most important to respond calmly, empathetically, and present an action plan.

Positive Reviews – Why you should respond

The primary purpose of responding to positive reviews is to deliver a human thank you and let guests know you care. Beyond that, engaging with satisfied consumers creates trust, conversation, builds SEO (search engine optimization), and even attracts new customers.

78% of consumers say that seeing management personally respond to their online review makes them believe that the business cares more about them. Not only that, but when you respond to a review, the reviewer gets a notification and a reminder to come back in.

Positive Reviews – How you should respond

When crafting your response to a positive customer review, it’s best to start with the client’s name and a quick thanks for their feedback. You can also include company values in your response to reinforce your brand, but always keep responses brief and free of advertising–online reviews are a place to be heard, not sold to. Keep your response to 3-4 sentences max and allude to something specific the customer mentioned in their review to reassure them you read it and hear them.

Did you know that 52% of customers expect to hear back from brands within 7 days of writing an online review?¹ So be prompt! Successful businesses know that even positive reviews need some positive engagement.

If you’re looking for a way to increase your positive reviews and resolve negative experiences privately…

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