At the minimum, people expect restaurants to provide good food and timely service. But it’s getting harder and harder to meet these requirements as eating and drinking establishments, even fast-food giant McDonalds, make do with fewer workers.
In mid-2021, 72 percent of operators said they struggled to retain cashiers, cooks, servers, bussers and the like amid the pandemic. This remains the case to date, with some workers turning to bigger restaurants offering better pay and benefits and others moving on to different industries altogether. This has left many restaurants in a loop of trying to keep customers happy while understaffed. Factor in longer wait times and the possibility of human error, and this plan can backfire, leaving businesses vulnerable to negative comments that spread like a virus online.
Now more than ever, businesses in the foodservice industry need effective and responsible restaurant reputation management to mitigate the impact of the labor crisis. Specifically, online reputation management (ORM) can help you rebuild customer trust through a focused online reputation repair strategy.
Knowing how to respond to negative reviews can remarkably improve customer satisfaction. This blog will show you the best possible ways to deal with rants, complaints and criticisms. At the same time, we will provide you with complementary practices to keep customers happy amid the restaurant worker shortage.
How To Rebuild Trust With ORM
There are two ways to manage your restaurant’s reputation if worker shortage issues are earning you the ire of unhappy customers: review monitoring and reputation repair.
Both restaurant reputation management strategies require you to handle online customer reviews proactively, so our discussion will revolve around them.
But first, here are two huge reasons your company should prioritize them amid the labor crunch:
- Customer experience is paramount. As we said earlier, people walk through your door expecting good food and timely service. But the clincher is that they can share their experience with others through online review platforms — including the good, the bad and the ugly — and potential customers may take their word over yours.
- In the digital age, 8 in 10 consumers read online reviews for local businesses before making a purchase decision. We cannot stress the importance of online reviews enough – customer reviews can affect sales and, in turn, your business’s financial standing.
Online Review Monitoring
Reputation management experts cannot stress enough how the importance of online reviews extends to your bottom line. So your restaurant reputation management strategy should include monitoring your brand mentions and online customer reviews.
Here are some review monitoring best practices:
Take Control of the Challenges
As you strive to adapt to the restaurant worker shortage crisis, you can complement your effort by monitoring your ratings and reviews. It helps you assess how your customers perceive your brand, service and offerings. It also allows you to keep track of what they’re saying about you, including negative comments.
Cultivate Lasting Relationships With Your Customers
Focus on your existing customers and find ways to improve customer satisfaction. To do this, you need to monitor their comments and questions, if any, to sustain your end of the deal in the business-customer relationship.
Reputation management experts say being proactive in this area can increase your customer lifetime value (CLV), which refers to a customer’s total worth to your business over the course of their relationship with you. And amid the labor shortage, the lesser cost involved in working on your CLV over acquiring new customers can make a huge difference.
Use a Reputation Management Tool
Automating the review monitoring process can help understaffed restaurants greatly. Together with reputation management services, you can rely on online reputation management software to help you keep track of your customers’ experience across online channels. In particular, the Rize Reviews ORM tool can provide you with a filtering system that:
- Sends customers leaving 4-star and 5-star reviews to your preferred review platform where they can write public reviews.
- Forwards low ratings and poor customer feedback to your in-house representative for proper intervention.
Online Reputation Repair
With or without a restaurant worker shortage, businesses in your industry should prioritize learning how to respond to negative reviews. This practice enables you to minimize the risks associated with a bad company image and turn negative comments into marketing opportunities.
Aside from responding to online customer reviews, reputation repair also involves the following best practices:
Audit Your Online Reputation
You need to determine if damaging information about your brand exists online, especially if you’re new to restaurant reputation management. An online reputation audit helps uncover problem areas and provides a baseline for measuring the success of future actions.
Getting this initial step right is crucial, so it is usually more cost-effective to engage a provider of reputation repair services. Strategists can show you how to rebuild trust and devise a strategy to deliver lucrative results.
Respond to Negative Reviews
Usually, the best way to handle negative feedback is to respond to it. Responses can be short and sweet. But make sure to show you sympathize with the customer and assure them you’re ready to take responsibility. Rize Reviews experts also recommend taking the conversation offline if the customer agrees to it.
Responding to bad reviews does not just regain customer trust; it also creates an opportunity for acquiring new customers. Remember: While people’s perceptions may be affected by a negative review about your brand, your response can give them a good idea of how you treat customers.
Generate New Reviews
Reaching out to your customers for a review is essential in running a restaurant. If you’ve managed to accumulate 20 reviews without doing anything, how much more can you gain if you proactively ask patrons to leave a review? These days, you can also automate this process together with review monitoring through an all-in-one reputation management tool.
How does this help rebuild customer trust and restore your reputation? It’s quite simple. As you generate more good reviews, you can push down the negative reviews in the search results. When you have more positive comments than bad, a few negative reviews can be harmless and even seen as a part of an authentic review system.
More Ways To Elevate Customer Satisfaction Amid the Labor Crisis
To generate good reviews, you need to keep your customers happy. To keep them happy, you need to elevate the quality of your service. Embracing digital innovations is how you go about it amid the worker shortage. You can:
- Adopt online ordering to serve more customers even if you have to compromise on foot traffic. After all, it’s the safer option for most people as the pandemic continues to create uncertainty.
- Put up automated kiosks to make the on-site ordering process fast, efficient and convenient. This trend is growing in popularity, with top franchises like McDonald’s and Shake Shack applying it in some of their locations.
- Connected to online ordering is expanding your delivery options, which you can tackle on your own or in partnership with third-party service providers.
- Offer curbside pickup to reduce wait times for customers who want to drop by your restaurant.
- Explore contactless payments.
In this blog, we have talked about how to rebuild trust and improve customer satisfaction amid the labor crisis through restaurant reputation management. Through our discussion, we have also reinforced the importance of online reviews. We hope that you have also learned a thing or two about how to respond to negative reviews.
However, we recognize that review monitoring and reputation repair can take time, energy, money and other resources that you might not have. So we understand why you’d think they will be difficult to implement as you already lack workers to serve customers.
We are here to assure you, though, that this is what online reputation management companies are for. With the right reputation management experts, you can maximize your budget while hitting the results you need.
Rize Reviews is an expert provider of review monitoring and reputation repair services. As one of the industry’s most comprehensive online reputation management companies, we integrate these approaches into your overall ORM strategy to save you time and other resources, ensuring everything works together to keep your restaurant in good standing throughout the worker shortage crisis and beyond. Further, we automate ORM processes using all-around online reputation management software, making our offerings accessible and affordable.
Speak with one of our knowledgeable and skilled reputation consultants to learn more about how we can boost your reputation and help you meet your sales targets.