The Importance of User-Reviews for Restaurants

There is a lot of competition for restaurants out there – what sets yours apart from the rest? If you’re dealing in dining you’ll know first-hand that word of mouth recommendations are priceless when it comes to getting your restaurant’s name heard, but those alone may not bring big numbers. The way word of mouth works has changed rapidly over the last few years, developing into a largely digital phenomenon, where online reviews top many people’s checklist when it comes to trying out a new restaurant.

We’ve recently conducted an extensive survey among restaurant-goers and 62% of diners said that user-reviews were the top thing they considered when deciding which restaurant to book with.

As a business, investing time and money into building your brand is definitely important, but user-reviews back your claims up from a reliable source – your customers themselves. At Go dine, restaurants with the most reviews get the most bookings – it’s a clear trend and something you could be using to your advantage.

So, what can you do to get those all important five stars?

      • Social Media. Make sure you have some sort of social media presence – having a page on Facebook makes your venue rate-able and having a Twitter or Instagram handle encourages people to tag you when they’re raving about your food. Often people post these sorts of things anyway, so by having these platforms linked to your business you will build up a repertoire of reviews and mentions that anyone can click through to and see what is being said.
      • Dedicated Sites.Technophobe? If you don’t have a website, Facebook, Twitter or even a contact email for your customers, setting yourself up on a site like Go dine is the perfect way to get your name out there. We’ll set up a professional and attractive web-listing for you, which will automatically allow your customers to view your menus, photographs and reviews – boosting your reputability and in turn your revenue. Our survey showed that reviews are the main reason our users choose to book through us, which just highlights the importance of enabling them.
      • Guestbooks. This one is a little retro, but is still a great offline marketing tool. Encourage guests to leave a ‘thank you’ in a guestbook as they leave the restaurant – customers leaving could provide some great feedback to you, or may read the other messages and decide to come back again. You can also type up some of the messages as testimonials for your website, converting offline reviews to online ones.
      • Incentives. Avoid the vicious circle of ‘no bookings so no reviews, no reviews so no bookings’ by offering a little incentive in return for their time. Go dine offers a great reward scheme offered to all the customers of our member restaurants so you don’t have to fork out lots of money as an incentive. For each review they leave, they’ll earn points they can collect and exchange for a free meal from one of our select restaurants. It’s a great scheme that’ll save you money whilst still getting you those reviews.
      • Don’t be afraid to mention it! Popping a little message asking for a review on your receipts, menu or advertising won’t hurt, and can trigger people’s memories when they get home and have the time to leave their review.


Respond to negative reviews effectively
A few problems can arise with enabling user-reviews, but there’s always something you can do to rectify them. These problems aren’t all doom and gloom, as sorting them out show substance to potential visitors and dedication to disgruntled customers. Here’s a few tips about what NOT to do if reviews aren’t running too smoothly for you.

      • Angry responses. If someone leaves a negative review, apologise and get in contact with them to discuss and sort out their problem. Sometimes restaurant managers leave fiery responses to criticism, which comes across as rude and unprofessional. Even if you are sure your restaurant has done no wrong, it’s best to deal with the review calmly and articulately – by reacting badly you’re not just sabotaging future business with that customer, but potential visitors who read your replies.
      • Deleting reviews. Alternatively, if a review is bad, you might find it best to just delete it. Please don’t! Every restaurant has its bad days and a clear, sympathetic response is far better than people cottoning on to your deletion of their opinions. If there are problems with your restaurant you can’t discuss, apologise for or defend, then it’s probably a deeper rooted problem than just one unhappy customer. Remember that reviews are a fantastic source of constructive feedback as well as testimonials, so use them to highlight where you can improve and don’t toss them aside.
      • Writing your own. It may feel like a slow process getting people to review your restaurant in the first place, but don’t bulk your reviews up by forging them yourself. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but a lot of trust goes into regular business between a customer and a restaurant – if you’re figured out it could seriously harm your reputation. Continue to push your reviews using the ideas above. As a member restaurant of Go dine, you can also mention it to us and we’ll do our best to push reviews for your restaurant and really start making use of your listing.

Have you got any questions or thoughts about customer reviews for restaurants? Leave them in the comments below!

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