If you haven’t heard the news, you’ll soon see critics’ reviews for restaurants the moment you search for them on Facebook.
In an effort to get people to stay on the social network rather than click off to read full articles elsewhere, the feature pulls reviews from renowned sources like New York Magazine and Bon Appetit and embeds them directly into search results within Facebook itself.
The idea is, while you might have went to Facebook to find information on a restaurant’s hours or location and then separately searched a review site to find out what people are saying about it, now you can get all of that information without leaving Facebook at all.
Pretty convenient for the average person in search of a bite to eat, but for restaurants, things can get sticky if those publications don’t have nice things to say.
This newest feature only includes reviews from professional critics, but it’s not a stretch to assume this is just the first step in a bigger plan to incorporate everyday local user reviews and more down the road. After all, more people trust everyday user reviews over pro reviews, anyway.
With 88% of consumers putting just as much stock in online reviews as they do with personal recommendations, the growing influence of local customer feedback has a major implication on every restaurant today:
Restaurants need to get active in shaping a positive online reputation for themselves.
The question is, how do you actually do that?
How can restaurants actually influence the way people review them?
It’s one of the biggest questions on the minds of restaurant owners today, but also one of the most misunderstood.
Without any better solution, many businesses resort to asking customers for feedback through offers and signage, but these strategies ignore an important pattern in the way people go about giving reviews in the first place.
By in large, customers don’t take the time to write reviews about clean bathrooms and shiny silverware, that’s expected everywhere. But when these small expectations aren’t met, people can’t wait to jump on Yelp to warn others about these basic flaws in service.
In short, the little details of the restaurant experience matter a lot more than before, but for the typical restaurant, these are exactly the kinds of things that get overlooked when busy Friday evening crowds leave kitchens and staff in chaos.
Taking steps to shape your online reputation is less about asking for feedback and more about ensuring there’s nothing for serial complainers to pounce on. After all, the best reviews don’t come those who leave one because they were asked to, they come from those who go out of their way to share a great experience with others.
If you’re a restaurant, your food and service should inspire great feedback on its own. Instead of putting your effort into asking for nice words, invest your resources in preventing little problems from ruining the bigger picture.
How can restaurants ensure even the smallest expectations are met?
The short answer? Tools. Specifically, those that go far beyond what old-school pen and paper checklists can accomplish.
There’s a lot going on in a restaurant at any given time and if you’re still managing tasks the same way you did ten years ago, chances are it’s only a matter of time before customers sound the alarm online when disconnects in communication turn into errors in service execution that leave customers steaming.
Smartphones and tablets are connecting people to their businesses in ways that weren’t possible before, and these kinds of systems are finally making it possible for restaurants to manage their operations intelligently by giving managers access to detailed reports and alerting them to issues that persist time and time again.
Now, restaurants can rely on technology to reveal even the smallest inconsistencies in the experience they’re delivering to customers and fix them before those small problems turn into much bigger ones.
Shifting from prevention to promotion
It’s a sad state of affairs when keeping up your reputation online boils down to preventing comments about dirty windows and empty toilet paper holders.
But with the right task management and checklist tools in the hands of your staff, keeping tabs on the small details becomes an automatic process. Rather than relying on your team to remember a long list of tasks to carry out throughout the day, mobile task management tools make tasks organized and visible to everyone, ensuring nothing gets missed and the right people are notified when repeat problems threaten the quality of the service you deliver.
With more time to devote to actual improvement , you can shift your effort from preventing problems to making good experiences great experiences, which in many cases, can be the key to propelling your online reputation above the competition.
Want to learn what you can do today to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered throughout your restaurant? Grab our free eGuide: Improving the Restaurant Experience by Perfecting the Little Details
Photo credit: Maria Elena