Restaurant Digital Marketing 101: What About Reviews?

Posted on February 27, 2015 by Michelle Locke

Handing reviews is one of the most difficult issues restaurants face. Whether reviews are good or bad, everyone has an opinion. In this three-part series, we’ll be covering the basics of restaurant digital marketing and the steps you can take to get on the right track. You can view parts one and two {here} and {here} (links). In this post, we’ll cover the basics of online reviews—and how to respond.

Know the Platforms

What are the biggest review sites for restaurants? The top of the list includes Yelp and Google+, two that nearly everyone has heard of. As we wrote last week to post, having control of your Google+ page will allow you to respond to reviews and, therefore, control your online reputation. The same goes for other review sites as well.

You can claim your listing on Yelp here and learn more about responding to reviews. We’ve written a post about TripAdvisor in the past, so be sure to check it out.

When it comes to any of these sites, you’ll want to make sure to update all your relevant information, including your hours of operation and phone number. You can also include written descriptions to highlight your signature dishes and history. When you create accounts on these platforms and claim your restaurant’s listing, you’ll have the increased ability to respond when you need to.

Write Responses

When it comes to responding to reviews, remember: you need to respond! Ignoring a negative review won’t make it go away or change anything about it. Allowing a negative review to stay on Yelp or TripAdvisor without a response can harm your restaurant; other visitors to the page will assume that you don’t care about customer experience and that the review is inherently true. Not good! Here are some basic steps to responding to a negative review:

  • Assess its validity. No matter what, when a new negative review of your restaurant appears, the first step is to determine if it really happened or not. Speak to any employees who were present. Don’t immediately assume it is an over-reaction or made up story.
  • Apologize. Even if you determine the story is one-sided or exaggerated, it is important to publicly apologize on the actual review. Then, simply request that the person email you or call you, and include your contact information in the message.
  • Take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. That might mean speaking to your employees about it, adjusting your training, or changing your service plan. Negative reviews should always spur discussion on what you can do to improve your restaurant.

Take Action

When it comes to review sites, the most important thing is to be vigilant and to respond to reviews in a timely manner. This allows you to remain in control of the dialogue about your restaurant and, by extension, your reputation.