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7 tips to get meaningful reviews from your restaurant customers

Posted by Garrett Smith on Mar 26, 2018 8:08:00 AM

Leaving a bad review is one of the most common things an upset customer will bring up when they’re dissatisfied with their service. Great reviews, meanwhile, entice new customers to come check out your restaurant for the first time.

With so much importance now placed on online ratings and food reviews, what do you need to do to get meaningful ones for your hospitality business?

Here are some simple tips you can use to improve your customer reviews.

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1. Be awesome at what you do first

If you want to get better reviews from your restaurant customers, you should think about how you can really get ahead of the game when it comes to creating a great experience for them.

Give your customers a good reason to leave meaningful reviews - is it your food? Is it your customer service? Is it your venue design? Aim to constantly deliver and execute at a high standard, then from there customers will naturally talk (and brag) about your restaurant (online and offline) because they recognize your service and offering is awesome.

The little things count, so make sure each and every customer is welcomed warmly into your venue and that they are treated well. Put yourself in your customers shoes, and understand if the service you're providing leaves them with with a positive or negative experience.

2. Make sure you’re asking

It seems obvious enough, but perhaps the biggest step, is to simply ask for a review from your customers.

Here’s the thing: customers are 85% more likely to leave a review if they are asked. This means that the great majority of people will actually leave a review with their honest opinion if they are asked to do so.

There are right ways, and wrong ways, to ask for reviews, but these can vary for every restaurant or hospitality venue. One way could be to leave a suggestions box near the entrance of your restaurant, that way customers can leave feedback if they choose to, and it’s not intrusive.

Either way, it's important to simply put the question out there and let customers know that their feedback matters. 

3. Train your staff to ask

Reviews don’t always need to be in a rating or ranking format, it could be simple anecdotal or testimonial feedback from your customers. To get real time feedback from your customers, it’s helpful to train your staff to check in with diners to gauge their experience overall.

To get your team on board, it’s probably best to discuss with them too. Once you’ve come up with strategies, it’s important to train them on how to best execute it, without being pushy. Let them know why reviews are important and how they can help boost the reputation of your venue by simply asking customers for a review.

You may also want to take this time to review general expectations with your staff, such as what kind of language and tone to use with customers, how to greet people walking in, and so forth. Remember, everything that happens with a customer, from the moment they walk in through the door, can and will shape the tone of their review. 

Typsy online hospitality training and learning platform at typsy.com

4. Don’t incentivize customers for reviews

This may seem counter-intuitive, but you should not actually incentivize customers into leaving a review for your business. Generally it will lead to a biased opinion because you’ve rewarded them before letting them experience your offering. As much as possible you want to get unprompted reviews, it’s a truer indication of how your restaurant of hospitality business is performing.  

So what do you do? You provide excellent service, not excellent discounts or kickbacks for writing a review. When you add an incentive to an online review, such as a discount, gift card, or other “gift,” you are encouraging a positive review to be left.

Now, wanting a positive review isn’t actually a bad thing, but pressuring someone into leaving a positive review for your business is problematic.

Also, if food critics or bloggers decide to review your restaurant, the genuine ones will always pay for their meal and dine anonymously, or mention in their review if it was complimentary.

5. Use a reputation management tool

Getting better reviews from customers may seem like quite the endeavor, but it’s possible to make this project a little bit easier for you and your team.

Thanks to the technology we have access to, there are many online reputation management tools available to help business owners improve their review profiles.

Many of these tools will feature a centralized dashboard that helps your staff easily monitor all of your professional review profiles and allow you to actively solicit for these reviews via email or text.

6. Make the most of social media

Most customers now are on social media. When done right it can be a great way to interact with them directly and get any feedback, including reviews.

Think of social media as the online extension of your customer service. Instead of complaining or praising your venue face-to-face, they will ‘like’, ‘share’ or ‘comment’ about their experience through social media. It’s an online word-of-mouth that has incredible local and global reach.

If your restaurant decides to be on social media, be prepared however to manage the positive and negative that comes with it. The pros are that you’ll build your online presence, your image and your customer base. The cons are that there can be ‘trolls’ who could potentially taint your service and offerings.

The best way to handle these sticky situations is to take the conversation offline and contact the customer directly to avoid unwanted social media attention. 

7. Always improve your services

Here’s the reality about reviews: you won’t always get a coveted 5-star rating, but you will learn about the services that you can improve through all of your reviews.

It’s difficult to read sometimes, but negative reviews are just as important as positive ones. In fact, sometimes they are more important, especially if that negative review actually leads to a problem being solved.

Therefore your goal should always be to improve your services and listen to what your customers are saying. Your reviews, good or bad, are a reflection of how your responding to their needs.

In the end, it's important to focus on the customer experience and your offering, because mastering this at your restaurant is likely to have a flow on effect and will encourage meaningful reviews. 


Take our lesson now on how to get positive online reviews with Joshua Swanson. 


Garrett Smith_bio_GP.png Garrett Smith is the Founder of RepCheckup, an online reputation management software, and Pitch + Pivot, an entrepreneurial marketing consultancy. He's also the author of 'Book Now! Internet Marketing for Healthcare Practices' and has been helping businesses successfully sell and marketing online since 1999.




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Topics: Hospitality marketing, Hospitality managers