For the restaurant industry, these are critical times. The sector needs all the support it can get and Google restaurant reviews have an integral part to play in this.
Those who know the power of Google reviews know that the restaurant sector is particularly dependent on this system. More than 60 percent of customers will check Google reviews before going to an establishment.
But how important is it when customers can’t visit your business? For the restaurant sector, it’s even more critical. In a digitalised world, online reviews create the opportunity to build presence, credibility, and respond rapidly to the changing needs of their patrons. In these trying times, restaurant owners need google reviews to encourage their community of customers to rally around them.
Customers don’t choose or rate a restaurant based on the food alone. They see the number of people, feel the place’s ambience, engage with the serving staff, enjoy the cuisine, listen to the music, and then consider the offering as a whole.
Well, that was in the pre-pandemic era.
When customers cannot go to a restaurant, they have to rely on someone else’s feedback on a platform like Google reviews. This changes the dynamics. What was important earlier has now become critical.
The sector is now primarily geared toward takeout and delivery. Without interactions with the establishment, its staff, its ambience, food presentation and other diners, the reviews are now focused on a different set of aspects.
Now, customers rate a restaurant on other functional elements like hygiene, speed of delivery, ease of communication, quality of packaging, available parking space, and the behaviour of the delivery person.
While this poses a relook at restaurant marketing, it also opens up doors for new avenues to increase customers. One way is to focus on getting more and better reviews. Reviews also present the opportunity for you to tailor your service to the things that customers are valuing while needs and circumstances continue to change.
Quite simply, you’ve to ask for them. Instead of walking up to them while they’re finishing their dinner or reminding them as they step out, now you’ve got to directly or digitally request their feedback. There’s no way around it.
Because if you’re not asking for reviews, remember that your competitors will. Consider this the biggest marketing investment for your restaurant right now. So, how should you do it?
This is one of the easiest ways to request reviews. Again, after they would’ve had the meal, send a customised SMS. Use this as a template:
“Hey (first name of the customer), thank you so much for ordering from us. We hope you liked it. If so, could you please leave us a review here? (insert your Google My Business link here). Thank you (name of the restaurant).
Sending individual text messages to customers from your phone is a thing of the past, with apps that can streamline the whole process, from requesting, collecting and responding to reviews.
You could also go the old-fashioned way and leave a note with the packed food. It could be along the lines of the SMS message, but instead of a link, you could just mention the procedure to find your business’s Google My Business profile. You could even combine the two by leaving a note that asks customers to sign up for your texting scheme.
An even better way would be to make it a handwritten thank you note. Such a note, although time-consuming, will make the request personal and humanise the restaurant. This could be a special gesture that you save for larger orders.
You can also put up posters where customers come to pick up their takeout. Keep the message short and simple.
Share your Google My Business profile on all your social media handles. Request for reviews by posting periodically. It should also be on your website.
If the reviews are favourable, you should thank them, and share them on your website. You must also share them on your social media pages. This has to be done regularly.
When thanking your customers, don’t just limit yourself to four or five-star reviews. You should also engage with the three or two-star reviews. If it’s a negative review, apologise and try to take the conversation private.
During the pandemic era, it is common and normal that customers will have concerns related to safety and hygiene. Some customers may be anxious to see that businesses are being safe, whereas other customers may be frustrated by what they see as excessive safety measures. The best way forward in both cases is to highlight how your business is complying with the current regulations, guidelines and restrictions in your local area.
During a time when restaurants are limited in ways to meaningfully connect with their customers, they need Google reviews more than ever. Google reviews are a cost-effective, productive, and easy way to bring a boost to business, by increasing trust and a sense of community. Reviews can also help businesses to be reflective, agile and responsive, by recognising and rising to meet the changing needs of their customers. The restaurants that use it well will encourage their community to rally around them so that they can survive and thrive.
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