Boost Your Restaurant's Customer Base: Engage with Reviews and See Results
If you own a restaurant or provide marketing services for one, you already know that word of mouth is one of your most valuable tools for attracting customers.
What you may not have realized is that your responses to reviews are just as important as the reviews themselves.
You’re missing out on low-effort, high-value opportunities to acquire and retain customers if you’re not actively monitoring and managing online reviews of your restaurant on platforms like Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business).
How do we know this? Because we interviewed hundreds of diners from various demographics to learn how the average consumer truly feels about restaurant ratings and reviews, as well as business owners’ responses to them.
What we discovered may cause you to reconsider your own review management strategy.
Continue reading to find out why responding to reviews is more than just a courtesy — it’s also a wise financial move for your restaurant.
These insights affect your business — whether you’re a small local chain, a coast-to-coast franchise, or somewhere in between — and can be used to help you grow.
Why Your Restaurant Should Respond to Online Reviews in 5 Eye-Opening Statistics
With a new year approaching, now is an excellent time to reassess your business strategy and work on resolving the issues that have been affecting your bottom line.
However, new strategies will only benefit your company if they are in line with consumer attitudes. And what better way to discover those attitudes than through consumer interviews?
As the year 2022 came to a close, our team wanted to learn how diners felt about online reviews and review responses in the restaurant industry so that we could share our findings with our readers.
We interviewed 200 people from various age groups, genders, income levels, family/household sizes, education levels, employment statuses, and other demographic factors.
Our survey participants all had one thing in common: they had eaten at or ordered from a restaurant within the previous six months. Here are five of the most important takeaways from our survey:
1. Responding to reviews increases the likelihood of people visiting your restaurant.
Two-thirds of consumers (67%) said they were “more likely to dine in or order from a restaurant that has responded to its online reviews.” This is because, as Google states in its tips for ranking locally, “responding to reviews demonstrates that you value your customers and their feedback.”
2. If you respond to customer reviews, they are more likely to return to your restaurant.
The majority of those polled — 77.5%, or 155 out of 200 — said they were “more likely to be a repeat customer of a restaurant that responded to your review with a personalized, thoughtful reply.” That is an excellent segue to our next realization, which is…
3. Personalized responses are preferred by more than two-thirds of customers over automated responses.
A total of 143 respondents (71.5%) said that personalized review responses were preferable to generic, copied-and-pasted responses, demonstrating the power of personalization in action.
4. Under the right conditions, more than half of consumers would consider changing their initial negative reviews.
53% (106 respondents) said they would “consider changing… [a] review rating if the owner of the business responded… with a thoughtful, personalized message.” Learn about the best star rating for your restaurant in 2023.
5. Almost four out of five customers said that responding to reviews was an effective way to differentiate themselves from other restaurants.
You will face constant competition from other local bars, restaurants, cafes, and/or fast food franchises, whether you sell pizza or pastries. According to the 78.5% of respondents (157) who agreed that “responding to reviews is a good way for businesses to stand out from their competitors,” responding to reviews is an easy way to set yourself apart from competing establishments and chains.
The figures above show that simply by providing what reviewers want and expect, you can appeal to a larger number of potential customers, retain a higher percentage of your existing customers, and successfully differentiate yourself from competitors — not to mention improve your local rankings on Google.
The question now is, what is the best way to respond?
In today’s digital age, online reviews have become a powerful tool that can make or break a restaurant’s reputation. Potential customers heavily rely on reviews to make informed decisions about where to dine.
As a restaurant owner or manager, it is crucial to actively engage with reviews to enhance your establishment’s online presence and attract more customers.
In this article, we will discuss effective strategies and provide practical suggestions on how to engage with reviews and see tangible results for your restaurant.
Monitor and Respond Promptly: Regularly monitoring online review platforms, such as Yelp, Google Reviews, and TripAdvisor, is essential. Actively tracking new reviews allows you to respond promptly, addressing any concerns or appreciating positive feedback. Timely responses demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction and create a positive impression among potential customers.
Show Appreciation for Positive Reviews: Every positive review is an opportunity to express gratitude and reinforce the positive experience of your customers. Responding to positive reviews shows that you value their feedback and encourages repeat visits. Keep your responses personalized and sincere, thanking customers for their patronage and specific compliments they’ve given. Offering a special incentive or discount for their next visit can also go a long way in fostering customer loyalty.
Address Negative Reviews Professionally: Negative reviews can be challenging, but they present an opportunity to showcase your dedication to customer service. When responding to negative reviews, maintain a calm and professional tone. Apologize for any shortcomings and take ownership of the issue. Offer a solution or invite the reviewer to contact you directly to resolve the matter offline. By demonstrating your willingness to address concerns, you can turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal advocate.
Be Engaging and Authentic: When engaging with reviews, authenticity is key. Avoid generic responses and show genuine interest in the feedback provided. Address reviewers by name whenever possible and reference specific details from their review to show that you’ve taken the time to read and understand their experience. By being engaging and authentic, you build rapport and trust with potential customers, making them more likely to choose your restaurant.
Utilize Social Media Channels: Expand your reach by leveraging social media platforms. Create official accounts for your restaurant on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Engage with reviews and comments on these platforms, responding promptly and maintaining a consistent brand voice. Share positive reviews on your social media accounts to showcase customer satisfaction and encourage further engagement.
Encourage Customers to Leave Reviews: Actively encourage your satisfied customers to leave reviews. Include a gentle request on your menu, receipts, or in email newsletters. Offer incentives like free appetizers, discounts, or loyalty program points for leaving reviews. The more positive reviews you receive, the greater your restaurant’s online reputation will be, attracting new customers and influencing their dining decisions.
Implement Feedback: Reviews can provide valuable insights into areas of improvement for your restaurant. Pay attention to common themes or recurring feedback and use it to refine your operations, menu, or customer service. Actively implementing feedback demonstrates your commitment to continuously enhancing the dining experience and signals to customers that their opinions are valued
Engaging with reviews is a crucial aspect of managing and growing a successful restaurant. By monitoring reviews, responding promptly and professionally, and leveraging social media, you can create a positive online presence and attract more customers.
Remember to show appreciation for positive reviews, address negative feedback with professionalism, and utilize customer insights to improve your restaurant.
By actively engaging with reviews, you will not only see an increase in your customer base but also foster loyalty and build a strong reputation within your community.
How to Effectively Respond to Positive or Negative Restaurant Reviews
Restaurant reviews have become a vital part of the dining experience, with customers sharing their opinions and experiences online.
As a restaurant owner or manager, it is crucial to respond to both positive and negative reviews in a thoughtful and strategic manner.
We will explore effective ways to respond to positive and negative restaurant reviews, providing three examples for each category to illustrate best practices.
Responding to Positive Reviews: Positive reviews are a testament to your restaurant’s success and should be acknowledged and appreciated.
Here are three examples of how you can respond to positive reviews:
Example 1 – Gratitude and Personalized Response: “Dear [Reviewer’s Name], thank you so much for your wonderful review! We’re thrilled to hear that you enjoyed your dining experience with us. Our team takes great pride in providing exceptional service and delicious food. We hope to welcome you back soon to create more memorable moments for you. Thank you again for choosing our restaurant!”
In this response, you express gratitude, address the reviewer by name, and acknowledge their positive feedback. The personalized approach shows that you value each customer’s experience, and the invitation to return encourages customer loyalty.
Example 2 – Highlighting Specific Compliments: “Hi [Reviewer’s Name], thank you for the fantastic review! We’re delighted to know that our service and ambiance made your dining experience exceptional. We will definitely pass on your compliments to our dedicated staff. They will be thrilled to hear your kind words. We can’t wait to have you back for another memorable meal. Thank you for your support!”
By highlighting specific compliments in your response, you demonstrate that you have taken the time to read and appreciate the review. Acknowledging the efforts of your staff and expressing enthusiasm for the reviewer’s return further strengthens the customer relationship.
Example 3 – Offering Special Incentives: “Dear [Reviewer’s Name], thank you for the glowing review and for choosing our restaurant for your special occasion. We’re thrilled that we could be a part of your celebration! As a token of our appreciation, we would like to offer you a complimentary dessert or a 10% discount on your next visit. Please let us know when you plan to return so we can make the experience even more memorable. Thank you again for your kind words!”
By offering a special incentive, such as a complimentary item or a discount, you show your gratitude and provide an extra incentive for the customer to visit again. This type of response not only strengthens customer loyalty but also encourages word-of-mouth recommendations.
Responding to Negative Reviews: Negative reviews can be challenging, but they present an opportunity to showcase your commitment to customer service and problem resolution.
Here are three examples of how to respond effectively to negative reviews:
Example 1 – Apology and Resolution Offer: “Dear [Reviewer’s Name], we’re truly sorry to hear about your disappointing experience at our restaurant. We apologize for the inconvenience and would like to make things right. Please reach out to us directly at [contact information] so that we can address your concerns and find a satisfactory solution. Your feedback is important to us, and we appreciate your honesty. Thank you.”
In this response, you acknowledge the customer’s negative experience, apologize sincerely, and provide contact information for further communication. By offering to resolve the issue offline, you demonstrate your commitment to addressing the problem and finding a solution.
Example 2 – Explanation and Assurance of Improvement: “Hi [Reviewer’s Name], thank you for sharing your feedback. We’re sorry to hear that your recent visit did not meet your expectations. We appreciate your honesty and would like to assure you that we take your comments seriously. We will address the issues you’ve raised with our team to prevent such
occurrences in the future. We strive to provide the best dining experience for our customers, and your feedback helps us identify areas for improvement. We would be grateful for another chance to exceed your expectations. Please reach out to us at [contact information] so that we can discuss your experience further. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.”
This response acknowledges the customer’s feedback, provides reassurance that their concerns will be addressed, and emphasizes your commitment to improvement. By inviting further communication, you demonstrate your willingness to listen and resolve the issue.
Example 3 – Turning a Negative Experience into a Positive One: “Dear [Reviewer’s Name], we are deeply sorry to hear about your recent disappointing experience at our restaurant. We understand the frustration this must have caused, and we apologize for falling short of your expectations. We would like to make it up to you. Please allow us the opportunity to provide you with a complimentary meal for two as our way of showing our commitment to excellent service. We value your feedback and hope to regain your trust. Please contact us at [contact information] to arrange your visit. Thank you.”
In this response, you not only apologize for the negative experience but also offer a tangible solution to make amends. By providing a complimentary meal, you demonstrate your dedication to customer satisfaction and aim to turn the negative experience into a positive one. This approach can help rebuild the customer’s trust and encourage them to give your restaurant another chance.
In conclusion, actively engaging with both positive and negative reviews is a critical aspect of maintaining and improving your restaurant’s online reputation.
Responding to positive reviews allows you to express gratitude, personalize your interactions, and encourage repeat business.
By highlighting specific compliments and offering incentives, you can strengthen customer loyalty and generate positive word-of-mouth.
When it comes to negative reviews, responding with empathy and a commitment to resolving the issue is essential. Apologize sincerely, take ownership of any mistakes, and offer a resolution or an invitation to further discuss the problem offline.
By addressing negative feedback professionally and promptly, you can demonstrate your dedication to customer satisfaction and potentially turn dissatisfied customers into loyal patrons.
Remember to maintain a consistent brand voice, be authentic in your responses, and actively implement feedback to improve your restaurant’s operations and customer experience.
Engaging with reviews shows that you value customer input and care about their opinions. It also provides an opportunity to showcase your commitment to excellence and build a positive reputation in the competitive restaurant industry.
By adopting effective strategies for responding to reviews, you can boost your restaurant’s customer base, attract new diners, and create a favorable perception among potential customers.
Your engagement with reviews plays a crucial role in shaping your restaurant’s online presence, influencing dining decisions, and fostering a loyal customer community. Embrace the power of reviews and make them a valuable asset in your journey towards restaurant success.
According to our survey, consumers have a favorable attitude toward restaurants (and other businesses) that respond to ratings and reviews.
That doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want in your response. There are a few established best practices that we recommend you follow when writing your responses to customers — and, on the other hand, some review response mistakes that you should avoid making.
Whether you need help dealing with positive or negative reviews, old reviews, or reviews intended for someone else’s business, we’ve got you covered.
If you don’t have time to implement the review response tips we have suggested here, don’t worry: you can always rely on our team to respond for you, delivering personalized, on-brand responses in 24 hours or less.
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