With Coronavirus cases spiking throughout the country and many restaurants forced to close their doors to indoor dining, takeout, delivery, and online ordering have become virtually essential. Now that food delivery is primarily conducted online, your restaurant’s digital reputation is more important than ever. 

94% of restaurant goers use reviews to decide where they will dine — and nowadays, most diners are turning to social media, Google, and third-party sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor to see what others are saying about the restaurants around them. To be successful, you’ll want to treat your digital reputation like a garden — it requires ongoing care to flourish. 

Set reasonable expectations 

We all understand the chaos of adapting to COVID-19. Health and safety have become customers’ number one concern regarding take-out, delivery, and pick-up. 

Communicate regularly with your customers about the COVID-19 precautions your team is taking. If you have to operate at reduced staff, let your customers know upfront to expect a slower delivery time. Update your menu properly and make sure your current operating hours are up-to-date on your website, Google listing, and social media profiles — especially if they tend to fluctuate.

Solicit feedback on social media and digital platforms 

Your social media presence is key. Take advantage of these platforms to not only keep followers updated on your operations but to engage and connect with them. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Google My Business are all great places to encourage and receive customer feedback.  

There are a couple of ways to request feedback: 

  • Ask in person: Add a reminder on the customer’s receipt, at the checkout, on your physical menu, or on the delivery slip. Be sure to include direct links to your website and other social profiles so that people know exactly where to leave a review.
  • Ask online: Encourage your customers to leave feedback through your mailing list, text, or social media posts.

If you have different menus catering to different customer segments, occasions, or themes (e.g: family-style meals, birthdays, etc.), probe your customers to give a bit of context in their reviews so that potential customers can find some relevancy.

It also never hurts to ask for a referral. Consider phrasing it this way: “Next time you stop by, bring a friend — because a good meal is never meant to be enjoyed alone!”

Amplify positive reviews 

It’s not always enough to just increase the quantity of reviews you receive — you’ll also want to amplify your customers’ positive feedback.

Be sure to thank customers who leave reviews. This is a simple extra step that shows you care about your customers and appreciate their feedback.

Highlighting positive reviews on digital platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Google My Business also gives you a chance to show off your restaurant’s achievements and values. Consider re-posting reviews that give insight into the quality of your food, service, or other unique aspects of your business.

Address negative reviews 

Research by BrightLocal shows that 97% of consumers who read a business’s reviews also read the business’s response to those reviews. This highlights how valuable it can be to take some time to respond to reviews — both positive and negative. Use this as an opportunity to showcase your restaurant’s high level of customer service.

A negative review does not have to spell disaster. In fact, studies show that a restaurant’s efforts to address the criticism and make right by the guest can reverse the customer’s attitude. 45% of consumers say they are actually more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews.

When responding to negative reviews, be sure to:

  • Acknowledge the time that the customer has put aside to write you a review
  • Thank the customer for leaving a review and request a second chance
  • Provide your direct contact information to take things offline
  • Apologize and offer solutions for the customer going forward

Remember: an apology is only meaningful if it comes with concrete, actionable steps. Offer something to ameliorate the problem, whether that’s a discount on a future order, a replacement, or an adjustment to your queue line. 

Keep in mind that time is of the essence. Monitoring reviews in a timely manner not only shows appreciation for your customers, but also prevents negative reviews from spreading fast.  

To take a proactive approach to improving your food and service, consider building a proper training plan for your employees