The increasing popularity of online review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google, makes it feel like everybody’s a critic. When everyone makes their opinions public, conflicting perspectives are inevitable and sorting through the mass of information can seem like a daunting task. However, online reviews provide a valuable opportunity to gain greater insight into your operations and guest experience. Incorporating guest feedback can even lead to an increase in revenue. One study found that even a 1-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue. Plus, with the right tools, review management doesn’t have to be a slog. By claiming your pages on review sites, creating a review monitoring schedule, and making note of trends, you can easily translate guest feedback into operational improvements.
1. Claim your business page
The first step to incorporating online reviews into your operations is claiming your restaurant’s page on all major review sites. This allows you to control what future customers see about your business before they come through the door. To get started, claim your business page on Facebook, Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. Next, ensure all the information is accurate. Edit your business hours, address, and contact information so potential guests know when and how to reach you.
2. Implement review management software
Review management software can help you aggregate multiple reviews onto one dashboard to give you an overview of what people are saying about your business online. With SpotOn, for example, you can add your restaurant’s review profiles to your online dashboard to get real-time alerts when new reviews are posted, and view customer feedback on the same platform you use to oversee sales and marketing. Review management software can help you save time monitoring your reviews and give you a bird’s eye view of public opinion.
3. Create a review monitoring schedule
Like most aspects of running a business, review management is not a one-and-done task. Keeping a regular schedule and assigning a point person to monitor reviews can help make sure review management doesn’t fall through the cracks. Decide whether you’re going to monitor reviews as they come in, daily, weekly, or monthly. Designate a staff member to keep this cadence and ensure they are trained in how to respond to feedback appropriately.
4. Respond to reviews—both positive and negative
A positive review feels like a hard-earned stamp of approval. A negative review can feel like a discouraging setback—but it doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and realizing that fact is part of fine-tuning the guest experience. It’s important to strike the right tone when responding to guest feedback, so reviewers feel like their voice is heard and consider paying a return visit. Let your guests know that you value your feedback, what steps you’re taking to improve their experience, and thank them for choosing your business.
5. Make operational improvements
When one review mentions a surly server or a drafty window seat, it can be easy to write that off as a subjective opinion. However, when multiple reviews identify the same area for improvement, it presents an opportunity to tweak your operations for the better. Online reviews are a form of qualitative data. Just like you consider sales data and cost of goods when altering your menu, taking feedback into account can give you data-driven insight into your operations. Perhaps multiple reviews are noting long and disorganized wait times—could you implement reservation software to take reservations ahead of time, or provide a convenient online waitlist? Make note of your feedback trends and use them to help improve your menu, seating options, and hours of operation to meet guest preference.