With increased holiday traffic comes the inevitable uptick in customer reviews. Responding – to good and bad reviews – might be the last thing on your mind during the seasonal surge, but a thoughtful reply can mean the difference between someone choosing you over the competition.

Restaurants who consistently respond to their online reviews have an average rating of .5 stars higher than those who don’t.

For the days when review management feels like opening a lump of coal, we’ve put together some tips to keep you sane and your customers merry.

  • Designate time: Much like “I’ll stick with my resolution this year,” telling yourself you’ll answer your reviews later is easier said than done. Instead of waiting for downtime which may never come, commit to setting aside the same ten minutes on a regular schedule just to read and respond. One time-saver is to have a few variations of canned responses on hand for the more generic reviews:
  1. We’re so happy you had a good experience, and we look forward to hosting you for your next date night!”
  2. “I’m so sorry to hear your evening didn’t meet expectations – this is not the impression we want to leave. Can we get in touch with you to learn more?”
  • Do a little research: if your restaurant receives a negative review, it’s tempting to be defensive – after all, you have a wonderful establishment. But a well-written, specific response can do two things:
  1. Address, and hopefully resolve the reviewer’s concern, reverse their perception, and turn them into a repeat customer.
  2. Demonstrate to potential customers that you care about their opinion and take the time to reply to a dissatisfied patron.

Before you respond, look through the reviewer’s post history. Are they a bit of a Grinch with a pattern of superfluous bad reviews, or is there a legitimate concern you need to investigate? It’s important to respond either way, but for the former, one of your canned responses should do the trick.

Of course, for each scenario, be so thoroughly pleasant in your response that no one could believe a word of that bad review.

  • Use keywords: Keywords are your friends! Sprinkle them like salt throughout your responses. This goes for general keywords related to your restaurant, plus seasonal items. If you really want people to try a holiday special, mention that in as many responses as you can and watch your search ranking rise.
  • Centralize: Toggling between review sites is time-consuming, and frankly a pain, especially during the holidays. Wouldn’t it be great to manage all your reviews in a single location? With Marqii, you can track and respond to your Yelp, Facebook, Google, and Trip Advisor reviews, all from one place.

Ok, we might be a little biased. But to hear from someone impartial, here’s Zino Carr of Garden Catering on their review management experience.

Here’s to Happy Holidays and good reviews!

To learn how Marqii can help you simplify your review management, set up a meeting with us today.