There’s no question that customer reviews are integral to the face of the modern small business, whether you are a local deli or small chain. In case you didn’t know, 92 percent of customers use online reviews today to make purchasing decisions — particularly when it comes to food.

Nothing helps a hungry customer choose where to eat quite like positive customer feedback. Good reviews help customers confidently purchase from businesses, knowing they will be taken care of if anything bad happens.

Bad reviews will send your business to your competitors kitchen in a hurry. By the time consumers are reading reviews they are usually ready to purchase, they are just looking for some last minute reassurance to make sure they are making a good decision.

The big question: how do I get my customers to leave my business good feedback?

The big question: how do I get my customers to leave my business good feedback?

Answer: Provide a 5-star experience worth sharing online. This takes a lot of hard work. By becoming a more customer centric company, your customers are far more likely to show their appreciation when it comes to time to leaving feedback online. There’s a great book about this that I would highly recommend:

Short story – mediocrity isn’t going to cut it. Being the local agent of averageness isn’t going to inspire your customers to leave good feedback online. People are busy enough with their own lives to take the time to write your business a review, you better give them a great reason.

Once they have the inspiration, many customers require prompting. I suggest using SMS vs Email as SMS open rates are significantly higher. Send them an automated message with a link to leave you feedback, it’s a simple enough campaign.

There are two major tactics restaurants can use to get mobile phone numbers during their experience: capture phone numbers during reservation for confirmation or capture phone numbers via table card with tools like Talk to the Manager.

Once the reviews start flowing in, you’ll need to know how to use them most effectively. This is where the fun begins.

Here are some ways on how to use them throughout your sales process:

Lead Generation: Drive traffic directly to Yelp or another 3rd party listing. Many of them have built in CTA’s and in some industries convert way better than traditional landing pages. Use reviews & testimonials (carousels, sliders, ect.) on your website anywhere you have CTAs, table reservation forms, event email submissions, ect.

Menu: Use reviews inside your menu, it can help customers order more confidently

Decoration: Be proud of your reviews, print them up and display them in picture frames and window decals.

Risk vs. Reward in Reviews

We all know that by asking all of our customers to leave feedback, some of them might choose to leave negative feedback. This is the reality of doing business, it’s impossible to make every single customer happy. That being said, it’s not something that should be holding you back from gathering lots of customer feedback. In my opinion, the risk is absolutely the reward. Here’s why:

  • #1: People who are looking for a good place to eat want recent reviews, not reviews from 2 years ago. Recent reviews provide a lot more confidence than reviews from awhile back, things change and lots of restaurants are notorious for “losing their touch, or not caring anymore”
  • #2: Bad reviews can actually build confidence if you know how to respond to them properly, sometimes they can even be removed for violating the content guidelines. Most consumers are looking to make sure a restaurant cares about each and every dining experience.
  • #3: A one-star increase in your rating can lead to a five to nine-percent increase in annual revenue. This study particularly focuses on the revenue of restaurants in the USA, talking about a reward for good reviews!

As more consumers turn to reviews to choose where to eat, it should be one of your top priorities to be bringing in new reviews and showing them off. Not only will you find your revenues higher but you could find yourself operating a more sought-out restaurant.

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