With the expansion of technology and social media giving a voice to the people, restaurants can be reviewed instantly, making every customer experience crucial to the business's reputation.
In the past couple of decades, with the birth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the rapid advancement of technology, the ability to connect with others is easier than ever before. No matter where we are, as long as we have access to the internet and a smart device, we can connect with our friends, colleagues and clients across the globe in a matter of seconds.
More specifically, in the past few years, the ‘foodie’ phenomenon has consumed cities across the UK. Gone are the days of eating at the same places every week; now it’s all about trying new cuisines, authentic dishes and restaurants, whether they be independent start-ups or chains known across the world. The UK is obsessed with food.
And with this new trend comes a sea of food blogs, recommendations and restaurant reviews. Potential customers will listen to the reviews of other customers who have eaten at a restaurant over what the restaurant is saying about itself. If they have a bad experience, they are more than likely to share it.
In the UK, the BBC claims that four out of every five adults has a smartphone and, according to Ofcom, we spend nearly two hours each day on our mobile. With instant access to social media platforms, restaurant review sites and other forums, customers are able to share their dining experience on the internet immediately - where users (in their hundreds, thousands and millions) from every corner of the world can see it.
If your restaurant receives many good reviews, your customer base may very quickly expand as it looks great to those interested in eating with you. However, it’s difficult for restaurants to have only positive reviews and no negatives. If your restaurant is constantly receiving poor ratings on social media you could be in trouble and your business is likely to suffer. This is why it is important not to dismiss the impact this may have.
But the way to avoid bad reviews isn’t to shy away from advertising your business on social media. In fact, this can be also be damaging. If a food blogger visits your restaurant, cafe or eatery and is impressed/unimpressed with their experience, they will write about it, which means that these reviews are still being read by other potential customers.
The ease of instant reviews means that the reputation of your business can very quickly be made, or broken. Open web access means that we are all publishers and even just one negative review could deter others from visiting your restaurant. Today, Google and other sites will ask you to review restaurants or complete surveys, so they can provide their users with an accurate reflection of each place. Recent statistics from the 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey by BrightLocal reveal that a staggering 84 per cent of people trust an online review as much as they do a personal recommendation.
This is why it is more important than ever before for restaurants and other food outlets to strive to provide the best possible customer experience. By doing this, not only will the probability of a negative review decrease but it will also ensure best practice is consistently maintained by restaurants acting to solve these issues positively and eliminate any negative reviews.
When it comes to considering eating at a new restaurant, how highly it has been rated in relation to food hygiene is often a decisive factor. It is crucial for food outlets to make sure that they have the highest food safety standards and that they are consistently maintained.
In order to achieve this, restaurants can provide e-learning training for their staff so that they are aware of the importance of daily food safety routines and checks. Online training will also protect consumers and lead to a more positive dining experience.