In this 5-minute read:
- Where to start
- Bad reviews can be good for business
- 5 ways to get more customer reviews
- Should you buy or incentivize new reviews?
- Respond to reviews
Reviews are a crucial part of converting new customers when everything we know is online. When we feel like venturing out to a new place to eat, we go to trusty Google to check out the sweet restaurants near us. And our decisions are widely based on the reviews of other customers.
So, what can you do to get more online reviews for your restaurant? We have a few strategies that are helpful for growing your customer reviews.
Where to start
First, you need to make sure your restaurant is listed on the main review platforms that customers use. Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor are great places to start, and OpenTable is also a must for restaurants.
These platforms are where your restaurant shows up when someone does a search in the first place, but it’s also the listing on which customers are able to leave a review.
Check out these tutorials to get started:
- How to claim your Google My Business listing
- How to claim your Yelp business listing
- How to claim your business listing on TripAdvisor
There are several other free online directory sites, commonly called “citations,” that you can list your restaurant on. Listing your restaurant on these sites allows you more opportunities to receive reviews and to show up better on Google.
Understand that all reviews are good reviews
This might seem odd, but even a bad review can be a good thing. When someone sees that a restaurant has tons of reviews and every single one of them is a 5-star review, that starts to seem a little suspicious.
Did they pay for their reviews or create fake accounts to leave reviews? One might start to wonder.
Not everyone is going to love your restaurant or have the best time, and that’s okay. That’s completely normal, and potential customers expect it when they read reviews. It looks much more natural if you have an average star rating between 4.0 and 4.9 than if you have all 5 stars.
Of course, if you have tons of bad reviews coming in all the time, then you may want to consider making some changes in your staff, food, or facilities and getting more happy customers.
How to get more reviews for your restaurant
Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Now that you have your listings and understand the impact of bad reviews, how can you get customers to leave you reviews online?
Here are five successful ways to get more reviews:
- Provide excellent service
This is probably an obvious tip, but the number one thing you need to do is provide phenomenal customer service. People don’t often leave reviews for a mediocre experience, so make sure you go above and beyond in how you treat your customers.
On the other side of that, if your service is really poor, you’re bound to get more negative reviews that will only hurt your business.
- Post signs in your restaurant
Place “rate us on Google” or “rate us on Yelp” signs strategically throughout your restaurant. This can be a sign at the cash register, a sticker in your menus, a sign on the window as customers are leaving–just be sure they are visible.
This will help customers to know that you are on Google and Yelp, and it can plant the thought in their mind that they should leave a review if they are just loving their experience and the food.
- Ask for reviews
Happy customers don’t often think to leave a review. Unless they own their own business, they likely haven’t thought of how leaving a positive review can impact the businesses they visit.
Sometimes they just need a little encouragement, so that’s when an employee can ask for the review. Don’t ask for “good” or “positive” reviews, though. Just let people know you appreciate their online feedback.
When you ask, the worst that can happen is they’ll say no. But more often than not, they’ll say yes. Of course, not everyone who says “yes” will remember to leave a review, but it’s a good start.
Also note that Yelp discourages against asking customers for reviews. Always follow Yelp’s policies, and place official Yelp signage near the door and cash registers to remind customers to rate you there.
- Add instructions to receipts
Whether you provide email or printed receipts, these are a great opportunity to provide information to your customers about how the can review your restaurant. Place a QR code or short link on your receipts that take customers directly to your listing to leave a review.
- Try a reputation management service
Several reputation management solutions exist to help small businesses like your restaurant acquire and manage online reviews. They typically allow you to send text or email invitations to your customers to leave you a review.
Some platforms allow you to segment your customers based on their feedback so that only those who have positive feedback get sent to a public platform to post their review. That can become super handy.
Should you buy or incentivize online reviews?
Absolutely not! Not only is it against the policies of every major review platform to offer rewards or pay for online reviews, but if potential customers get wind that you do this, then they know that your reviews are fake and will find someplace else to dine.
Google is very adamant about not purchasing or rewarding online reviews. Most people will leave a positive review for some kind of reward even if their experience was only so-so. It skews the reviews and is also false advertising, which can get you into trouble with more than just Google.
People already are very skeptical of online reviews, so don’t give them more reason to be.
The best thing for your restaurant is provide great service and acquire natural reviews that tell the truth of your customer experience.
Respond to reviews
When you do get a new review, whether good or bad, it’s important to respond to it promptly. It says a lot about a restaurant owner that engages with their customers online. A professional and friendly response to a negative review can help a customer decide to choose your restaurant.
Smarter restaurants use negative reviews as valuable feedback to improve their products and services, and to give unsatisfied customers another opportunity to have a good experience.
Plus, Womply research shows that businesses that regularly respond to reviews earn up to 49% more revenue!
If you’re concerned about the time it will take to increase and manage your online reviews, you should check out Womply’s reputation management software. You can read and respond to all your online reviews in one place with one login. Leave the heavy lifting to our system to help send invites to customers and post automatic response on customer reviews! Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!