Getting and Managing Reviews for Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes

Getting and Managing Reviews for Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes

For restaurant, bar, and cafe owners, finding and attracting more guests to increase business is a continual challenge. One of the best ways to improve the foot traffic for your restaurant, bar, and cafe is by getting reviews from loyalists and first-timers. Since so many people go online for suggestions and recommendations for places to eat, getting reviews on sites like Yelp and OpenTable is crucial for any business’s marketing.

Suppose you’re wondering how to get more reviews for your restaurant, bar, or cafe. Let’s look at the ins and outs of the process, all of which begins with providing superior service and creating an environment that compliments your offerings. 

How to Get Positive Reviews

Customer reviews

Receiving positive reviews for your restaurant, bar, and café are critical, as well as properly managing any that are negative. In fact, according to a Harvard Business School study, a half-star improvement on your Yelp review page has shown a 5-9% increase in business. Conversely, according to the University Of California, Berkeley, the impact of a negative review can decrease business by 19%. 

The process of getting positive reviews begins with providing excellent service, having attractive decor, a clean establishment, friendly staff, and an enjoyable dining experience. Next, you need to make the ‘ask’.

The ‘ask’ is when you request a review or comment from a customer. Requesting customer feedback or leaving a comment on social media are acceptable forms of making the ‘ask’.

In the end, the goal is to create an environment that encourages your customers to become involved online and in-house by offering various incentives that may turn customers into loyalists and loyalists into brand ambassadors. But, what exactly is a brand ambassador?

Brand ambassadors are people who will sing your restaurant’s praises to anyone in their sphere of influence, from friends and family to coworkers and beyond. These are the diehard fans of your establishment, and you should recognize them for their loyalty with various offers exclusive only to them.

7 Core Principles to Build Better Connections With Customers

There are 7 core principles in building a better rapport with customers that, when done effectively, will motivate these customers to become fans and brand ambassadors who are happy to leave reviews.

1. Offer Exceptional Customer Service and Experience

By offering exceptional customer service, you create an environment for an outstanding customer experience. Customers who enjoy their time at your restaurant are more prone to leave positive comments and reviews and engage with your social media content. 

There are some primary ways to create a customer experience that will encourage your clientele toward becoming loyalists and, eventually, brand ambassadors.

  • Train staff for better customer experience: Provide training for your host, support, and service staff to be friendly, personable, and professional.

Example: Encourage your team to get to know the customer and engage them by making timely suggestions, asking and answering pertinent questions, and recommending personal favorites.

  • Prioritize CX (customer experience): Cleanliness and friendly staff are two of the most crucial aspects of how customers perceive your business.

By focusing on those two components, you create an environment that fosters a great customer experience. 

2. Create and Manage Your Online Presence and Social Media Accounts

  • Manage Social Media Pages: Facebook, Yelp, Google My Business, and Open Table should all have regular content added and managed by your marketing team.
  • Encourage ‘likes’ and ‘follows’: Engage and interact with people who comment, like, and share your content.

3. Foster Brand Loyalty Toward Your Restaurant

Loyalty programs and incentives: Create a reason customers want to purchase your offerings time and again by creating loyalty programs such as “cashback” or exclusive membership perks.

    • “Cashback” programs: A “cash back” incentive such as 5% credit for every $100 spent at your establishment is an excellent way to foster interest in your loyalty programs.
    • Exclusive membership deals: Exclusivity implies special and is an attractive incentive to offer customers to sign-up for your loyalty program.
    • Discount codes or coupons for repeat customers: Similar to “cashback” programs, a discount code or coupons for repeat customers creates a positive customer experience.

4. Promote User-generated Content

  • Contests: Contests to create user-generated content that highlights and promotes your business create a much larger organic reach and brand exposure.

Example: Have your customers share a picture of their best picture of enjoying your food or retail somewhere and share it with their sphere of influence.

  • Promotions: Like contests, encouraging customers to “share” your promotion and offerings is a great way to engage your customers with your social media pages.
     
  • Brand ambassadors: A brand ambassador promotes your business to their colleagues and friends to drive awareness and encourage future customers to give your restaurant a try.

5. Cross-promotion and Collaborations With Similar and Complementary Brands

  • Collaborate: Work with like-minded businesses and cross-promote to reach a larger pool of potential customers.

6. Be Responsive to Reviews and Social Media Interactions

  • Be responsive: Replying immediately to customers fosters better appreciation and loyalty. Engage your customers online where they are located, such as on Facebook and other social media.

7. Make the ‘ask’

  • Ask in person: After providing exceptional service, an enjoyable customer experience, and engaging content online, the final step is to ask customers to leave a comment, like, or review.
  • Make the easy upsell: Include a comment card or section on your receipts, social media pages, and review sites to share a customer’s positive experience at your restaurant. Think of it like an upsell; you’re trying to provide quality service and provide the customer with the opportunity to tell others about their experience. 

How to Manage Your Reviews Online

Giving a review

Once you have social media and other channels established, managing your online reviews to get your restaurant, bar, and cafe in a favorable position requires constantly monitoring feedback and engaging with your customers to address any negative reviews or concerns.

Below is a short list to help you manage your reviews ethically and boost your ratings among online searchers. 

5 Keys to Managing Your Reviews Ethically:

1. Own Your Social Media and Review Pages on Yelp, Open Table, and Google Business Profile

  • Own and interlink all social media and review pages to take control over the type and amount of engagement on the pages.

2. Be Responsive to Reviews and Comments on Social Media

  • Comment and reply to all posts, reviews, and questions.
  • Engage with user-generated content.

3. Provide Dedicated Customer Service to Anticipate Visitors’ Needs and Resolve Issues Proactively

  • Dedicate a person or department to managing reviews, online customer service, and general customer outreach.

4. Utilize Integrated Software and Point of Sale (POS) Systems to Get and Manage Reviews Online

  • Use POS to integrate all aspects of your service, simplify the ordering and delivery operations, and create efficient payment options to boost the overall service and customer experience.

5. Do Not Offer Incentives for Reviews (violates FTC laws and ethical standards)

  • Be careful when it comes to incentives. Incentives for positive reviews can violate specific FTC regulations and general ethics. A best practice is to provide exceptional customer service and ask for a review without specifying the type of review you’re requesting. 

How POS Systems Can Improve the Customer Experience to Give You Better Reviews Online

Point of sale

Utilizing an end-to-end POS solution such as SpotOn can streamline your restaurant operations, improve customer experience, and increase potential revenue. A smoothly run POS eliminates possible timing delays for orders, helps to schedule open table times, makes for quick payment processing, and enables you to manage purchases and rewards with loyalty programs. Here’s why:

1. Efficient Payment System for Improved Customer Experience

  • A POS system will facilitate all aspects of the restaurant operations, including ordering, delivery of offerings, efficient payment processing, and facilitating the customer experience.

2. Request Customer Feedback and Comments

  • One benefit of an integrated POS system is that it allows you to capture customer information, request feedback and comments, offer incentives and manage your loyalty program.

3. Loyalty Membership Management

  • Tracking purchases to manage reward system.
  • Provide additional marketing opportunities.

By organizing your POS to be more efficient, you create a better customer experience. 

You can then leverage that experience as an opportunity to make the soft ‘ask’ for reviews. With every transaction, you can include opportunities for feedback, advertise your social media pages, and ask for engagement, comments, and reviews.  

Perception is reality. Your online reviews are how potential customers will perceive your business, so being proactive in customer service and problem-solving will only bolster your online reputation. 

Allison Bailey
About the author
Allison Bailey is a marketing manager and client engagement specialist at SpotOn, delivering expertise in customer care and review management to help SpotOn's restaurant and small business clients better connect with guests and increase revenue.

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