Time and time again, you clamor for guest feedback - but it's not always positive. Good or bad, guest feedback is vital to the success of your restaurant.You can improve the dining experience and build customer relationships by listening to your customers. In addition, positive guest feedback posted online can help build your brand reputation and establish your restaurant within your local community.
This is all part of the social media takeover.
Guests are now turning to the Internet when making a decision on where to dine. In the hotel and restaurant industry, 78 percent of guests will read online reviews before making a reservation or visiting a business more often than not. And these days, everyone is writing a review.
So when guests post reviews on websites like TripAdvisor or Facebook, potential guests will see these reviews when deciding on a restaurant. Establishing and following a customer feedback strategy is crucial to keeping customer communication open.
But the question remains: How do you motivate customers to provide feedback? And how do you manage that feedback when it’s posted online?
For the purpose of receiving reviews and building brand reputation, you can start by simply asking guests for feedback. There’s no real standard method for asking for customer feedback or reviews, but here are some suggestions:
Email is one of the most effective sources of constructive feedback for a business.
For starters, email requires the recipient to act. They must either delete the email or open it. It will live in their inbox forever until they do something, unlike social media.
On social, the audience can simply ignore requests for feedback and keep scrolling or swiping. You can even include the feedback request in a customer’s emailed receipt through platforms like Toast. Ask for a review by email by simply sending an email to your customers, like in this example:
Thank you for your recent visit! We want to provide you with the best service possible. Please consider posting a review of us online. They are a great way for us to to help other customers learn about who we are and the services we offer. You can also reply to this email with any feedback you may have. Thanks!
After the customer makes a payment or is about to leave your store, hand out a sheet of paper with a request for a review on a specific website.
Ask for reviews with a simple message. “How did we do today? Leave us your feedback on Yelp/Google/Facebook.”
This way you do not put any pressure on the customer to write reviews at the restaurant. The idea is that the card serves as a reminder to submit feedback if they choose to, not that they have to.
When you receive positive feedback – whether it’s from reviews, social media, e-mail, or in-person conversations, ask if the guest is willing to share their positive feedback online. This is a great way to make a final impression on the guest before the review is written, maximizing your chances of a positive review.
Guests are most likely already leaving feedback about you on websites like:
Not to mention the abundance of other review websites out there.
Make sure you claim your profiles on these popular review websites so your customers know to leave it in the correct place.
There are a few tools you can use to find and keep up with guest feedback online.
An easy way to find out where customers are leaving feedback is to use a review management tool that aggregates feedback from dozens of review websites. Tools like this are a great way for businesses with multiple locations to keep track of new reviews for each location, which will have a unique profile on each review website.
Another great way to hone into customer feedback is to use a social listening tool to uncover what your customers are saying on social media websites like Twitter or on personal blogs. Use these tools to have conversations with your guests and further develop brand loyalty.
With the above feedback strategies, it’s important to manage the guest feedback posted online. Respond to reviews and take issues offline. Use feedback from a variety of sources – including online reviews, social media, and surveys – to improve the guest experience.
You can also use the social media conversation to capture one of the most powerful forms of social proof: user-generated content. Social media is full of pictures of diner’s favorite dishes, Instagrammed and ready for any marketer to re-use for their own purposes.
If you’re looking for more positive guest feedback to help build brand reputation, guests who come from out of town might give you a more optimistic review. According to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, guests give more positive feedback when they are on vacation.
It also might be a good idea to ask for reviews weeks after the customer makes a purchase of your service or product, instead of days, according to the study.
The lead author of the study, Nina Huang, of Temple University in Pennsylvania, said:
“When people are reading a review, they assume it is objective. We found that reviews are not always as objective as we thought. Time and space distance is going to bias someone's evaluation of certain experiences.”
Lastly, never provide an incentive for a review. First, it’s unethical. Second, the Federal Trade Commission considers providing incentives for reviews illegal.
You should have a guest feedback strategy in place to receive and manage feedback in order to build brand reputation and improve the service and menu items at business locations.