For bars, cafes and restaurants, online reviews are hugely important to business success. Potential customers will look to reviews to decide whether or not to visit a particular establishment.
Reviews are User Generated Content – they’re far more powerful in fostering social proof than promotional content directly from the company. On social media people trust consumer reviews more than content created by brands.
So, for bars and eateries, a large bank of glowing reviews is one of the best ways to ensure a steady stream of customers through your doors. But how do you get happy customers to shout your praises from the rooftops?
Offer an incentive
This is the easiest and most obvious way for restaurants and bars to encourage people to leave positive reviews on social media.
“Leave a review for 10 percent off your next bill!” or “Go in the draw to win a 3 course meal for 2 by simply reviewing us on Facebook!” are tried and true methods of upping the number of reviews on your pages.
Let people know how to leave a review
The easier it is to leave a review, the more likely people are to leave one. Slip a business card in with the cheque which lets patrons know where they can go to leave a review, or which asks politely for a nice review on FourSquare, Facebook, TripAdvisor, or whatever your platform of preference is.
Include links to review pages in your emails to your emailing list. Add a gentle reminder that if they enjoyed their experience with you then it wold mean a lot if they left a review for you.
Use the ‘Tip Incentive’
The “tip incentive” works well for bars and eateries where a server has spent a lot of time with the customers. The server asks their customers to leave a review and explains that if they mention his/her name in the review the company will give them an extra tip.
This humanizes the good deed of leaving a review. If the customers had a good experience and liked the server, they’re more likely to leave the review because they know they’re doing a nice thing for that individual, rather than for the faceless company. For the customer it’s like leaving an extra, free tip!
Share other reviews on social media
Whether it’s screenshotting a TripAdvisor review, retweeting a nice message, or sharing a link to a great mention on a blog or newspaper, showing people that others are leaving positive reviews can be a strong motivator.
In yet another example of humans behaving like sheep, we’re more likely to leave a positive review if we’ve seen that others are doing it too. Not only does sharing the positive feedback promote your business, it also encourages more people to leave similar reviews.
Respond to negative reviews
Unfortunately, people are more likely to write a review after a bad experience than a good one. But you can mitigate for bad reviews. The easiest way to soften their impact is to respond. Respond with compassion, understanding, explanation, and apology. Don’t get defensive or angry at the reviewer.
A kind and thoughtful response to a bad review can potentially turn the situation around to work in your favor. Your response, especially if the original poster was unreasonable, can paint you in a favorable light, and someone reading it could potentially disregard the negative feedback.
Listen to what people are saying
It’s important to actually read your reviews and take on board what they’re saying. They are feedback after all. You can’t generate positive reviews if customers aren’t actually happy. Read the reviews and identify any common themes or areas of weakness that you can improve on.
Share positive reviews with staff
In the food and beverage industry, customer service is paramount. Having happy, attentive servers is critical, especially if you want people to leave positive feedback on social media. Even if everything else was perfect, a bad server can be enough to put a customer off.
Sharing positive reviews with staff is a great way to boost morale and show that their hard work is not going unnoticed. This will keep the buoyed and ready to go out and wow some more potential reviewers!