Saturday 19 July 2014

Why your business needs Dialogue - Restaurants

Today another restaurant was ritually slaughtered by Giles Coren...

"My steak was being made to eat one's own tongue."

"[my companion] had the hake. He virtually cried." 

"Quite inedible, of course..."

"Esther's rabbit wellington was also rubbish."

"I simply do not know what they were thinking."

There is more, much more, but those of you without access behind the Times pay-wall (or amongst the Times's 1.2 million readers) will have got the gist by now. 

You know just how damaging a review like this can be. There have been cases where similar reviews have closed businesses. 

So we checked online to see a) what the web was saying about them and b) if they were taking any action to defend themselves.

Here we go...

6 Google reviews in 3 years

224 reviews in 5 years
And these for restaurant specific sites:

This story is an illustration of just why review management has developed from something businesses either ignored or paid lip-service to into a fully-fledged professional service that has become a 'must have' for all businesses.

So what has the business done?

They have...
  • Focused on public relations; their website contains pages of PR (interestingly under the heading 'reviews') and, just as interestingly, the last article posted is from 2010.
  • Won many awards, national and regional
  • A great website

What have they not done?
  •  Harnessed the power of customer reviews
Their restaurant averages less than 30 customer reviews a year; that's less than one a week (take TripAdvisor out of the equation and that falls to a pitiful 3 reviews a year).

And the quality (and content) of those reviews is not great.

What should they have done?

Asked* their customers for their opinions.
  • Not left reviews to chance
  • Had a mechanism like Dialogue in place
Then, if they only had only managed to get ONE or TWO reviews a week, they would have hundreds of reviews to counterbalance Giles Coren's piece (and their not-so-great Google reviews).

And lessons for our clients...
  1. However great you think you are, there's always the chance that someone, somewhere will come along and disagree - publicly
  2. Don't take your customers' opinions for granted, work for them continuously
  3. Plan ahead. Google is becoming more influential by the day - get reviews there
  4. Get reviews to where they matter most. Just because you look at a particular website make sure that the reviews are going to the site your customers read
  1. The order in which we have shown the various review sites is intentional; it's the order in which Google shows them; however much you may think that consumers are wedded top a particular site, the overwhelming majority will read the reviews they are first shown by Google (providing you have them there).
  2. None of this involves any 'extra work'; every business should be harvesting customer email addresses as standard marketing practice anyway.The 'invitation to review' is standard and easily automated 
  3. If anyone has any doubts over whether or not TripAdvisor reviews are read - here is a review posted in the last week of a tiny restaurant in Spain by a HelpHound staffer:

*Restaurants should hand each customer a card and a pencil and ask them for their email address (if it has not already been gathered when the customer booked) and then send them an email thanking them for their custom an inviting their review.

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