How to Improve (And Get More) Online Reviews
Consider your own behavior as a customer. When you’re trying to decide where to eat, where’s the first place you look? Most likely, you pick up your phone, search by location or cuisine, then scroll thru ratings and reviews.
An ever-increasing number of people are instinctively turning to online reviews to help them choose where to eat. Like it or not, sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google to have a massive effect on where customers spend their money.
Certainly there are exceptions: holes-in-the-wall, seasonal locations, and food trucks are a few. But even these gems are becoming harder to hide. You have dozens, if not hundreds of phones in your restaurant every day. Each meal (and each device) is an opportunity to encourage a positive online review.
With that in , here are the five, fundamental ways you can improve online reviews for your business.
01. Get a Google Business Account
First things first: if you’ve yet to set up a Google Business page, it’s absolutely crucial. It’s not an overstatement to say this lets the world know you’re open for business.
Part of setting up this account will be getting your restaurant listed on Google Maps, which is a big deal, considering Google owned a whopping 90% of mobile search last year. Failing to get on that radar is a monumental mistake, even for well-established brands and locations. For restaurants just starting out or looking for a boost, it’s absolutely fundamental.
02. Engage with Existing Positive Reviews
Great news! Someone had such an amazing time at your restaurant that they’ve hit the online review sites and sang your praises. But the work isn’t done, because once you’ve gained a fan, it's your job to build that relationship to spread the good word about your restaurant.
Minimally, let the reviewer know you’re glad they visited, and they’re welcome back any time. Maximally, offer them some freebies or a coupon if they’ll bring amigos, and direct them on how to act on that.
Eg. “Aubrey, so happy you and Jess loved the goulash! Bring the whole crew next time and we’ll hook you up with a discount! Ask for Amy (I’m the owner) or Ben (Manager). See you soon!”
Any time you get the momentum of a positive review, it’s always beneficial to follow upon it. You’ll be surprised at the organic results.
03. Promote In-Store Reviews
Asking customers—especially travelers—to review you in-store can be a seriously effective strategy to build your numbers, but it takes a discerning server to know how and when to employ this. For instance, you could train staff to trade an in-store review for free dessert after particularly exceptional dining experiences. Or, more bravely, create a table tent or coaster that offers a coupon for online reviews. You can even do giveaways. Generating in-store reviews is a sure fire way to ascertain feedback, but isn’t guaranteed to have a positive bent. For a more sure-thing, you’ll want to ask more familiar faces.
04. Encourage the Regulars
If you’re fortunate enough to have a solid base of regular customers, reach out to them for help boosting the business. Be straight with them about what you’re seeking, and be mindful to ask at an opportune moment.
A review from a regular can be seriously motivating if explicitly stated online. One quick tale of “I’ve been coming here for 15 years” can offset three disagreeable people who didn’t like your corn. Customers have a sense that, if you’re staying on top of customer service for the regulars, you’ll treat them well, too. And you want the chance to prove them right.
05. Make it Easy
The fewer steps between your customer and the review page, the better. Each additional screen or hurdle will push a certain number of people away. To collect as many reviews as possible, you should directly link to the review page.
Provide a direct link to your review page on your social media profile, your website, and anywhere else customers might engage. Put QR codes on the napkin dispensers. Include the URL on your receipts. Whatever you do, make it so that anyone looking to leave an online review can do it right away. The easier you make it, the more reviews you'll see.
Investing in online reviews can seem adjacent to your responsibilities of running a restaurant, but it’s well worth your time to accrue some positive, online commentary. Apply these five principles with purpose, and you’ll reap the rewards in newfound clientele. If your business is properly oriented and ready to receive new customers, online reviews could be the final push you need to hit that tipping point.