4 Ways to Encourage Restaurant Reviews

Reviews can make or break a restaurant. Nearly two-thirds of diners report reading online reviews before going out to eat somewhere new, and what’s written about you absolutely affects how busy you’ll be. In fact, one in three customers will choose a competitor over you if you have a star rating of three or below.

That’s not to say that negative reviews are all bad. In fact, they can lead to better customer engagement, satisfaction and loyalty over time. Not that you want to go chasing after negative feedback, though, so if you’re looking for ways to garner more positive customer reviews for your restaurant, consider these tips.

Incentivizing Reviews

1. Ask

The best way to get customer reviews is to simply ask for them. Of course, you can only encourage customers to write a comment; you can’t dictate what they say or how they rate you. That’s why it’s important to be straightforward but congenial, so they’re not inclined to write something negative. There are a few channels you can use to request reviews:

  • Email campaigns. All of your email marketing should end with a call to action. Change things up sometimes by asking customers to leave a comment. You can also include guest survey links directly in the email marketing body.
  • Social media. Leverage your online engagement! Ask followers for reviews and take advantage of user-generated content too. UGC is one of the best ways to grow your audience and you should absolutely take advantage of it; promote your best customers as a thank-you for their contributions, as this will also foster better customer relationships overall.
  • Table cards. Leave a note on your coasters or a card on the table so customers see it during their meal. Many restaurants have also equipped themselves with state-of-the-art tabletop devices that have pay-at-table capabilities, which can automatically prompt customers for a review right after payment.
  • Website. Create a unique landing page that’s built to accept reviews so customers can come right to the source, instead of posting where you might not ever see it.

You can also promote the existence of your restaurant on review websites like Yelp and Tripadvisor so people in the habit of reviewing their dining experiences will notice you.

2. Incentivize UGC

As we mentioned, user-generated content is a great method for increasing your audience size and reaching new interested parties. Just remember to be careful: You can’t encourage positivity, only spur them into action. Motivate guests to make their own content by giving rewards. Promising discounts, coupons, loyalty points, and special offers lead to repeated business—plus guests are much more likely to leave a positive review with an incentive attached. It’s hard to badmouth a company that’s giving away free products just for commenting.

3. Share testimonials.

When you do get a review, you should share the positive ones with the world! After all, you worked hard for this engagement. Showing your appreciation for guests who leave good reviews leads to stronger relationships with those customers. Set up a page on your website to show off these testimonials or display them in your header, or find some other fun and creative solution to draw visitors’ eyes. You can also display positive reviews on your social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Stories.

4. Conduct NPS Surveys

This is a great way to determine if your customers are going to be good for business or negatively impactful—before they ever leave a review at all. NPS, or Net Promoter Score, is a ranking system designed to gauge customer loyalty and satisfaction. It asks one simple question: How likely is this person to recommend your restaurant to a friend or family member?

  • 9-10 score: These are your promoters who are most loyal to your business and will help you grow your audience through referrals.
  • 7-8 score: Your passives fall somewhere between satisfied and indifferent with their service; their experience was neither excellent nor particularly bad. These people can be swayed away by your competitors and need some extra incentive to come back for another visit.
  • <6 score: These detractors are most likely to generate negative press about their dissatisfactory dining experience.

Determining a guest’s NPS via this short, simple survey lets you know which customers you should ask for an in-depth review, who needs persuasion to return, and who might need extra incentive to dine with you again. It’s an effective metric separating your biggest supporters from those who won’t be coming back. This evaluation gives you the chance to circumvent bad press before it happens and focus your efforts on happier fish.

Closing the Deal

You don’t have to incorporate all of these ideas into your marketing campaigns and business operations, but experiment with a few and find out what works best for your individual restaurant. Ask your customers what they prefer, and your staff what they think is the best method. You want to attract guest attention, and the best way to do that is to go right to the source.

Don’t forget to make use of all of your customer touchpoints. Ask guests to complete a survey or leave a review when they check out when they email or call your restaurant and any other time you have customer interactions. You’d be amazed how more positive reviews will increase your customer engagement, loyalty, and overall satisfaction.

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