The Rise of the Restaurant Review
There’s a single universal question that we’ve all had to answer at one point or another:
“Where do I want to eat?”
Before the advent of social media and online reviews, restaurant corporations and franchise owners often had the last word when attempting to persuade you in making that decision.
First impressions and reputations were formed in the parking lot, at the storefront, or by the hostesses at the front door. Sure, word-of-mouth might have had some sway on a dinner decision, but the ultimate draw was the physical presence of a dining establishment, and the treatment guests received at the point-of-sale.
Those days are long gone.
Now, we decide where to eat before even leaving our house. We base our decisions on the opinions and ratings of previous patrons. Social sharing means one small step in favor of the free market, and one giant loss of control for restaurant owners.
The thing is — online reviews are not some long-awaited solution to the unfulfilled dining expectations of patrons. Furthermore, they certainly don’t satisfy the corporate need for impartial data about customer experience.
Here are three reasons why:
Online reviews tend toward extremes.
- Leaving a review on Yelp or Google is a relatively easy process, but most guests won’t take the time to do it unless the experience has somehow surprised them. Whether in a fever pitch of disappointment from especially awful food, or floating with elation after an inordinately pleasant experience, reviewers don’t take to the keyboard without some sort of emotional motivation. Without a random and unbiased sample of reviewers, Yelp makes outliers seem like the norm.
Some businesses trade discounts for positive reviews.
- While there’s nothing wrong with utilizing media to attract new customers, this sort of practice greatly disturbs the statistical reliability of online reviews. If, as a restaurant owner, you desire accurate and untainted information about your location’s performance, these sorts of promotional gigs make Yelp the wrong place to find it.
The demographics are skewed.
- Online reviewers—or even people who are familiar with the idea of online reviews—make up only a percentage of the overall restaurant guest demographics. For example, baby boomers or Gen Xers with valuable insight on your restaurant’s performance may never think to use an app to communicate that. They’re much more likely to request conversation with the manager on the phone, or to simply leave a tip that reflects their feelings without ever making those feelings public.
Measure Your Impact
Fortunately for franchise and corporate owners, there’s an untapped resource for gathering professional, unbiased information on any given restaurant’s performance. Customer Impact sends hundreds of trained contractors undercover each month to gather intel about the day-to-day operations of eateries across the nation. Our customized programs allow restaurant brands to ensure that their culture, training techniques, and curated menus are being upheld and presented to the highest degree.
With an ongoing mystery shopping program, restaurant owners can reclaim control over their brand performance and reputation—we’ve got over 20 years’ experience helping them do just that. Give us a call.