Posts Tagged ‘reputation management’

Restaurant Best Practices for Email Marketing Engagement

August 13, 2014

When you consider that 91% of all U.S. consumers use email every single day, and that emails prompt purchases 3 to 1 over social media, there’s no doubt that email marketing remains a powerful tool for restaurant businesses. That said, there’s an art to sending emails that your restaurant customers will actually open. Here are a few tips for creating engagement with your consumers through your email marketing campaign.

Tailor Restaurant Emails to the Individual Customer

The first and most important aspect of a successfully engaging email campaign is making your messages custom-tailored to the specific individual you are messaging. This is more than just including his or her name in the subject line. This customization also includes different messages and layouts based on factors such as age, gender, purchase history, click-through behavior and location. A recent survey reports that segmenting emails increases open rate as much as 39% and decreases unsubscribes by an average of 27%. Today’s email programs make it easy to segment your marketing messages, and given the advantages of doing so, there’s no reason not to include this level of targeted marketing in your email campaign.

Design Your Emails for Mobile & Social Compatibility

A second major factor that makes or breaks customer engagement in terms of emails is whether or not the email is mobile-friendly, easy to use and easy to share on social channels. Avoid large graphics that don’t render well on smartphones—especially if those graphics contain key details of your advertisement. Make your content clear and to the point. If there is action that can be taken (getting the customer to click-through somewhere) ensure that the bugs are worked out, the process you’re asking them to do is seamless and simple and that your message is easy to share with their friends. Even better—offer an additional incentive for sharing the offer with their own contacts.

Analyze Your Metrics to Fine-Tune Your Restaurant’s Email Marketing Campaign

You’ll hear it everywhere you look in the business world: analyze your metrics. Email marketing is no different. The only way you’re going to be able to tell which messages are working for you is to analyze your data. Use the information that you garner to fashion even better, exclusively targeted messages to your customers. Find ways to alter your approach to those segments that aren’t performing as well. Remember that open rates are just the beginning of understanding your numbers. Technology now enables us to follow the effectiveness of our email offers all the way to restaurant visits.

There’s no doubt email marketing can be a great way to drive revenue and customer engagement while having a high return on investment. Ensure that the emails you send are relevant to the consumer and sent at a frequency that makes sense for what you’re offering. Remember that being inundated or bored are the top reasons people leave mailing lists. Keep your messages targeted, timely and valuable to the consumer. Engagement is key to email marketing success.

Obtaining Useful Customer Feedback in Your Restaurant

July 25, 2014

Customer satisfaction means everything to a restaurant business. Fortunately, the easiest way to ensure that your customers are satisfied is to quite simply ask them for their feedback. Most people are happy to share their opinions—especially if they know that you will actually take action on the feedback they provide.

Asking people what you can do better before there is a reason to complain demonstrates your commitment to integrity and excellence. It makes your customers feel valued and underscores that you are committed to creating an enjoyable experience for them. Plus, you might be surprised at some of the good ideas your customers will offer! Here are the three main areas in which you can obtain useful customer feedback for your restaurant business.

Getting Feedback for Your Restaurant In-House

There’s no better time to ask for feedback on your customer’s experience with your restaurant than when they are right there on the premises and the experience is fresh in their minds. Ensure that you have feedback forms readily available, and train your servers to politely ask customers to fill them out to significantly increase your number of responses. Whether you use an old-school pen and paper, or include a digital feedback form in your point-of-sale system, don’t miss the opportunity to get fresh, in-the-moment feedback on how well you’re doing (or anything else you’re curious about, for that matter) right there, in-house.

Getting Feedback for Your Restaurant Through Online Mediums

The digital world offers another rich arena for you to gather feedback from your consumer base. Make sure that your restaurant’s website has a comment form and direct people’s attention to it by putting it on their receipts and sending your social media followers to it. You can also send your mailing list a survey via email. Ensure that the survey is easy to use and express how the feedback will be used to improve the restaurant. If you have an example of how you have taken positive action based on a customer comment, post it for everyone to see. People are more likely to take action if they know that you are really listening.

Useful Feedback Is Already Available in Your Restaurant’s Data

Whether or not you’re actively asking for it, your customers are always giving you useful feedback; you’ll find it in the numbers when you analyze your restaurant’s data. By doing this, you’ll be able to see not only which items you are selling the most (and least), but will also be able to discover trends in the sale of your products that you can take advantage of. Keeping a regular eye on these numbers is particularly easy if you’re running a digital or online ordering system.

The type of feedback you ask for is up to you. You should certainly try to gauge your customer’s satisfaction, but you can also gather feedback on anything else you might be curious about, such as that new menu item or latest change in décor. Some restaurants offer some form of incentive to customers in exchange for providing feedback, and if you’re comfortable giving something away, it will most likely increase your number of responses. That said, you also need to be careful not to undermine your brand’s reputation. Making customers feel that their feedback can really lead to change in the restaurant can be incentive enough in and of itself. However you do it, make sure you are doing it. Gathering customer feedback provides you with invaluable information that can help you run a better and more successful restaurant business.

How Restaurants Should Handle Negative Online Reviews

June 13, 2014

Restaurant owners have a growing love-hate relationship with the various online reviewing forums currently available to today’s consumer. A good review can do wonders for your business; a bad one can do equally as much damage. Unfortunately, as a restaurant owner, you don’t have much control over what people are going to say about your business online. The best you can do is ensure that your customers have as little reason to complain as possible, and to respond appropriately if a negative review does arise.

Have Your Restaurant Make a Public Statement in Response to the Negative Review

In the event of a negative review, your restaurant’s response to the complaint can do much to quell—or fan—the flames. Ensure that your response is timely, professional, public and addresses the customer’s complaints directly. If it is a problem that can be fixed, fix it. Do what you can to smooth things over without too much fuss. Customers who take the time to post a negative review are, in most cases, good people who have had a genuinely bad experience with your restaurant. While offering them freebies in apology can be nice, what they often want, more than anything, is to simply be heard and empathized with for their frustrating experience. What’s more, negative reviews can often alert you to problems in your restaurant’s operations of which you may not be aware.It may actually be appropriate to thank the negative reviewer for bringing the issue to your attention.

Let the Negative Review Die; Focus on Building Positive Reviews for Your Restaurant

After you have responded appropriately to the negative review, the next step is to let it die and focus on building positive reviews for your restaurant on that online forum. Letting it die means not engaging in a back and forth about who’s right with the negative reviewer, or any others who chime in. Make your initial apology, if appropriate, but try to respond thereafter with only messages that demonstrate your awareness of the issue and your commitment to excellence.

Instead of battling the negative review, again, steer towardgetting positive reviews for your restaurant on the forum. Ask your customers when they check out if they enjoyed their experience, and if so, would they be willing to share it publicly. If you need to offer incentives to get people to put their reviews online for you, do so. One caution here—don’t make the mistake of soliciting fake positive reviews in an attempt to cover the bad one. Fake reviews can be spotted a mile away and telegraph a message of insecurity and a lack of authenticity that will do more damage to your reputation than the negative review alone ever could.

Do Not Allow Your Restaurant to Be Blackmailed by the Threat of a Negative Review

While most people who post negative reviews are genuinely disgruntled about a truly frustrating experience, there is a certain small percentage of online reviewers who have started attempting to blackmail restaurants for freebies and other perks with the threat of a negative online review. While this situation usually happens in the restaurant itself with a would-be paying customer, it’s also begun to happen with non-customers online who pose threats of negative reviews in hopes of getting similar deals. If you suspect that the person is a malicious reviewer simply trying to blackmail you for goods, document the situation to the best of your ability.Next, contact the online forum where the reviewer is threatening to post with the details of your case. Big organizations like TripAdvisor and Yelp are aware of this growing issue and are willing to work with businesses to remove blackmail reviews if proper proof can be provided.

Getting a negative review for your restaurant isn’t the end of the world, but should be handled with care and consideration in order to ameliorate the damaging effects as much as possible. Blackmail aside, the best you can do with a negative review is to acknowledge the complaint, do what you can to fix it and focus on your commitment to excellence moving forward.

Why Your Restaurant Needs a Google Plus Presence

October 18, 2013

Google’s social media platform, Google Plus, currently boasts around 500 million users worldwide, second only to Facebook in terms of user popularity. While it’s smart for your restaurant to have a presence there for the same reasons it’s good to be on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, there are other reasons for having a G+ presence that are even more important.

Get More Visibility for Your Restaurant Across all Google Products with a G+ Profile

The first reason it’s smart to set up your business’s Google Plus profile is that you will automatically gain more visibility across all of Google’s products (Google Maps, Google Search, Gmail, YouTube, Google’s Android platform, Zagat reviews, etc.). Google is big on integrating all of their products to function as a complete ecosystem and obviously they have a vested interest in seeing their social platform be a successful venture. As a result, G+ information frequently shows up first in search results, making it in your best interest to have a well-built Google Plus profile presentation.

However, simply having a G+ presence will not automatically boost your search engine rankings per se. The magic really starts happening when you post frequently, interact with other G+ pages, include descriptions and hash tags and give Google additional relevant content to index. 

Google’s Reviews are the First thing People see When They Search for Your Restaurant

While the function that Google Plus serves in terms of search engine optimization is important, the function that it serves in terms of reputation management is perhaps even more critical. When someone does a Google search for your restaurant, the very first thing they see is a link to Google Reviews from consumers who have something to say about your establishment. These reviews can often make or break a consumer’s choice about whether or not to give your restaurant their business.

While you can’t control negative reviews (beyond doing everything in your power to prevent a poor customer experience in the first place), you can use your Google+ profile as a way to demonstrate that you’re open to hearing people’s feedback and are willing to address any concerns your customers might have. Furthermore, you can use your profile to build relationships with your customers and encourage them to leave positive reviews for others to read. All of this conversation becomes visible to the public through your G+ profile.

Leverage Google Plus Business and Local Pages for Your Restaurant

The final note on using G+ effectively is the fact that Google has set up specific profile types for businesses to use. Restaurants will most likely be best served by building a G+ Local page, which is specifically designed for businesses with a physical location and includes Google maps, reviews, and ratings from Zagat as part of the viewing experience. These pages also allow you to post content, photos and videos, interact with other pages and customer profiles, and even create ‘hangouts’ where you can interact with consumers or pre-record information you want stored on your profile page. It only takes a few minutes to get your Google+ presence up and running and the automatic boost in online visibility it affords makes it well worth your time.

Sustainable Seafood: How Demonstrating Your Commitment to Integrity can Increase Your Revenue

January 30, 2013

As people become more environmentally aware of the impact their choices make, sustainably harvested seafood has come under the spotlight in restaurants around the country. Numerous fish species have been harvested to the point of decimation, and fisherman around the globe have come under scrutiny for their unsustainable practices.

As a result, people want fresh seafood and they want to know where it’s coming from before they buy. As such, it is a smart move on the part of every restaurant owner who serves fish and other types of seafood to not only ensure that there are sustainable species on their menus, but also to educate their servers and wait staff accordingly.

Educated Servers = More Sales, Happier Seafood Customers

One of the simplest ways to build your reputation (and thereby increase your revenue) in relation to seafood, is to educate your servers so that they can talk intelligently to customers about the seafood they are serving. With rapidly changing menus and a sea of information about the best choices in seafood, people are really confused about what is the right way to go.

Therefore, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate the quality of what you are serving to your customers and the care that you have taken in selecting it. The only way to do that is to provide your servers with the seafood education they need to adequately address consumer concerns.

Sustainable Seafood Programs Demonstrate Integrity

There are a variety of sustainable seafood programs that restaurant owners can participate in to ensure that they are offering ocean-friendly species to customers. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch is one such program. Partners of the Seafood Watch commit to removing all species from the Watch’s ‘avoid’ list from their menus as well as educating their servers about ocean-friendly seafood.

This organization (as well as few others) also has a nice Power Point presentation that they will send individuals for free which details species currently on the Watch list, if you’re interested in seeing how your menu compares.

Sustainable AND Local Seafood Make an Unbeatable Combination

While it’s important to avoid species of fish whose populations cannot be harvested sustainably, it’s equally important to select species of fish that are as local as possible. Locally harvested seafood not only has less environmental impact, but it also gives you the ability to build your good reputation further by supporting the local community.

You’d be amazed how much of a draw fresh, local, sustainably harvested seafood can create for your establishment. By making these kinds of changes, you are making a commitment to integrity – which goes a long way toward making your business stand out from amongst the crowd and increasing your revenue.

By investing in education for your servers about ocean-friendly seafood, you are ensuring that customers are aware of your environmentally conscious efforts to be an establishment that operates with integrity. Making this kind of commitment further increases the chances that those customers will help you spread the word about your eco-conscious, locally sourced menu.

Are Online Restaurant Reviews Helping or Hurting?

January 10, 2012

Experts are saying that online restaurant reviews have taken the bite out of Zagat in less than six short years. Remember the days when a Zagat review was a vital part of the gourmands’ decisions in eating out? In the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was like the bible of gourmands and foodies. This has changed – not to mention that their choice to hide their ratings and reviews behind a paid subscription hurt its popularity since anyone can find restaurant reviews free of charge on the Web.

Mobile Apps and Online Restaurant Reviews

While Zagat’s subscriptions have plummeted, they are desperately trying to increase their profit by improving their importance to the foodie on the go. For just $9.99 a year, you can put the Zagat app on your phone and be on your way.

But why would consumers do this when the Yelp app is free?  With or without the review, it still proves useful with pertinent contact information and an easily accessible map of restaurant locations.

The Power of Yelp

Yelp has collected over 20 million reviews from amateur reviewers in less than 20 years. Can these amateur reviews really take the place of professional food critics? HBS professor Michael Luca says yes. After combining revenue data and Yelp stars, statistics show that going up one star in ratings can affect a restaurant’s profits by five to nine percent.

Restaurant Reputation Management

Needless to say, restaurant managers and owners aren’t quite as excited about the massive amounts of online restaurant reviews from Yelp. But there is a silver lining to this dilemma. Many restaurants are foregoing their traditional advertising methods for reputation maintenance.

What does reputation management involve? Mostly it involves an adherence to high standards and quality in food. This is a win-win situation. Of course, some may try to game the system with phony reviews and false rankings, but Yelp’s algorithm is designed to detect these phony online restaurant reviews.