‘Business is business’ so the saying goes, but when it’s your business, business is always personal! No one wants to read derogatory remarks about their restaurant, especially when you’ve invested so much of your time, money and effort into getting things right. But, sticking your head in the sand won’t help.
Whether it’s annoyances like your ‘gazpacho was too cold’ or the ‘melba toast was too dry’, or if there really was a serious issue with your restaurant’s food or service, the cost of bad TripAdvisor reviews are threefold;
Now we live our lives online, your business’ reputation precedes you long before your customers have even walked through the door. TripAdvisor’s own research found that 53% of British diners checked online reviews before heading to a new restaurant. Acquiring new customers after a bad run of reviews is probably more luck than design. With over half of all people doing their research before they leave the house, it would be unwise to solely rely on footfall if you’re lucky enough to have it.
Like any relationship, trust is paramount. In our world of #foodie Instagram posts, disappointment is rarely shrugged off like it used to be. Mediocre just isn’t on the agenda for today’s consumers. To succeed you have to up your game, and that includes cultivating your online persona. A 2017 survey from statistics portal, Statistica, found that 73% of respondents felt they trusted a business more after reading positive online reviews.
Virginia based restaurant, The Serbian Crown, found out the importance of reputational management the hard way. They were forced to close their doors after 20 years of trading in 2014 following a spate of negative Google and TripAdvisor reviews. One user complained “This is the worst service of any restaurant I’ve ever been to… not to mention that our booth was covered in dust. Would not recommend to my worst enemies”, another simply wrote “AVOID!!! AVOID!!! AVOID!!!”
For businesses choosing to ignore the mounting threat of negative reviews, the damage can be irrecoverable. Because getting bad mouthed on the internet is just the start of your problems.
As we discovered with the example above, bad TripAdvisor reviews hit you right where it hurts, your pocket! A side effect of bad reviews is fewer customers. Fewer customers means less money. And we all know what the means.
Would your business survive even just a 10% drop in custom? Could you afford to pay your staff? Order the stock you need? Keep the lights on? Cashflow is cited as one of the main causes of business failure in the UK, with only 5 in 10 making it to their 1st year, and even then, it can be a long road to profitability.
Zendesk found that 39% of customers will actively avoid a vendor for over two years following a negative experience. A massive 85% of those customers feel compelled to warn others! If 80% of your revenue is coming from 20% of your customers, you need to make sure those customers keep coming back. Two years is a long time to wait to make amends.
Bad experiences and negative reviews repel old and prospective customers alike, but a there is a third often overlooked effect bad reviews can have on your business.
We all want to be a part of the winning team. Like it or not, we spend so much time at work it often becomes part of our identity. The majority of us will take pride in what we do and therefore it can be pretty disheartening for staff whose employers get a slating online. Whether your staff are part of the problem or not, this rise in negative emotion creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. This can see can see your standard of service dramatically decline.
When motivation is low, so are efforts. In a sector already struggling with skills shortages, it can be very difficult and expensive to replace employees dropping by the wayside. The Institute of Hospitality found that 9 out of 10 restaurateurs already struggled to recruit staff, and that’s before the Brexit effect has truly taken hold.
Employees proud of where they work are your natural brand advocates. They will do their utmost to ensure your customers have a great experience, boosting positive reviews and driving traffic to your restaurant. This ultimately makes you more money so it’s in your best interest to create a positive work environment!
Stopping bad reviews before they happen would be the ideal way to avoid all the heartache associated with negative online reviews. If you could identify issues and halt them in their tracks, wouldn’t you?
The last word
In recent years, bad TripAdvisor reviews have been the scourge of the hospitality sector. But now you have the tools you need to take back control of your business.
The Customer Happiness Score® allows you to measure customer happiness in real time. There’s no complex rating systems, or confusing data, just an accurate reflection of your customers’ feelings. This allows you to respond to those feelings before they’re unceremoniously aired online.
Knowledge is power. It’s time to embrace technology that can take the uncertainty out of the mythical beast that is ‘customer satisfaction’. CHS® gives you the means to create an action plan that you and your staff can get behind. Book a demo today to see how improving your Customer Happiness Score can boost your business.