Wednesday 19 November 2014

Reviews and Restaurants - a 'Sorry' story

Last night one of our staffers and his significant other paid a visit to a highly recommended new local Italian (by the Times' A A Gill, no less).

This morning he related their experience:
  • Location: Great - walking distance
  • Decor: Good - bright, modern English with an Italian twist
  • Welcome: Good - from two young and enthusiastic staff
Now for the food:
  • Him: delighted - service was 'bright and cheerful', they were 'happy to bring tap water', 'olives, parmesan and three kinds of excellent bread were brought while we waited', main course was 'as good as you could expect outside Italy' and 'recommended wine was good value'
  • Her: everything as above until it came to the main course: 'Pasta on the uncooked side of al dente' and 'lukewarm' but 'not a big enough deal to send back or complain'
So far, so ordinary, you are all thinking. So why the subject of an article here? Because of the punchline:

'We won't be going back'

Now, before everyone launches in with 'Give them another chance' and 'Why didn't they complain when they were in the restaurant?' let's explain why we're relating this tale here...

There is a better way!

What we did not say before is that the restaurant was empty except for our couple. In central west London. At 8.30 on a Tuesday night.

This restaurant needs help, urgently. And it cannot risk letting custom like this slip away into the night. It needs to engage with its customers in a way that will work better than simply asking them 'Did you enjoy your meal?'

It needs to formally invite feedback. And not just to hear that the kitchen occasionally sends out undercooked pasta. Much more important than that, it needs to do it so it can reclaim the custom of people like the couple above.


They should ask their customers for their email addresses*. As a matter of course, when presenting the bill. They could (should!) have a card specially printed which explains why they need the email and how they will use it.

They will then send customers an email asking them if they enjoyed their meal. If the answer is in the negative they can then do whatever it takes to entice the customer back to give them another chance. 

You know what they say in marketing: 'There's only one thing better than a happy customer, and that is an unhappy customer you have made happy.' But to achieve that you have to identify the 'unhappy customer' and invite them to become 'happy'.

And that is just what Dialogue is all about. It will enable your customers to tell you what they might not otherwise tell you face-to-face; on top of that it will take their positive comments and post them onto your website and then get them on to Google - where your potential customers are looking**.

*When we first advise businesses to do this we get all kinds of objections, usually along the lines of 'Our customers won't do it because...' Well, we've been able to prove otherwise: customers will do it, and they will do it with a will. 

** To date 50,308 people have seen this restaurant in search - and it has only ONE Google review showing there.  

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