If you own or provide marketing services for a restaurant, you already know that word of mouth is one of your most indispensable tools when it comes to attracting business. But what you might not have known is that your responses to reviews matter just as much as the reviews themselves.
If you aren’t actively monitoring and managing online reviews of your restaurant on platforms like Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), you’re missing out on low-effort, high-value opportunities to acquire and retain customers. How do we know? Because we interviewed hundreds of diners, bridging diverse demographics to learn how the average consumer really feels — not only about restaurant ratings and reviews, but also business owners’ responses to them. What we discovered might make you rethink the way you handle your own review management strategy.
Read on to learn why responding to reviews is more than just a courtesy — it’s a smart financial move for your restaurant. Whether you’re a small local chain, a coast-to-coast franchise, or somewhere in between, these insights affect your business — and can be leveraged to help you grow.
Why Your Restaurant Needs to Respond to Reviews in 5 Eye-Opening Stats
With a new year around the corner, it’s an ideal time to reassess your business strategy and work on solving the pain points that have been hurting your bottom line. But new strategies will only help your business if they’re in alignment with consumer attitudes. And what better way to discover those attitudes than by interviewing consumers?
With 2022 coming to a close, our team wanted to find out how diners felt about online reviews and review responses in the restaurant industry, so that we could pass on those insights to our readers. We spoke with a total of 200 participants, including a mix of age groups, genders, income levels, family/household sizes, education levels, employment statuses, and other demographic factors.
What all of our survey participants shared in common was that each one had either dined at or ordered from a restaurant during the past six months. Here were five of the top takeaways we learned from our survey:
- Responding to reviews makes it more likely that people will visit your restaurant. Two out of three consumers — 67% of our respondents (134) — said they were “more likely to dine in or order from a restaurant that has responded to its online reviews.” That’s because, as Google points out in its tips for ranking locally, “When you reply to reviews, it shows that you value your customers and their feedback.” Learn more about the benefits of responding to reviews, like building consumer trust in your brand.
- Customers are more likely to return to your restaurant if you respond to their reviews. Most of the people we interviewed — 77.5%, or 155 out of 200 — said that they were “more likely to be a repeat customer of a restaurant that responded to your review with a personalized, thoughtful reply.” That provides the perfect segue to our next insight, which is that…
- More than two in three customers prefer personalized responses over automated responses. A total of 143 respondents (71.5%) said that customized review responses were preferable to generic, copied-and-pasted responses, providing the perfect real-world example of the power of personalization.
- More than half of consumers would consider changing their initial negative reviews — under the right circumstances. Just over half of our survey participants, 53% (106), said that they would “consider changing… [a] review rating if the owner of the business responded… with a thoughtful, personalized message.” Learn about the best star rating your restaurant should aim for in 2023.
- Almost four in five consumers said that responding to reviews was an effective way to stand out from other restaurants. Whether you sell pizzas or pastries, you’re up against constant competition from other local bars, restaurants, cafes, and/or fast food franchises. Responding to your reviews is an easy way to set yourself apart from competing establishments and chains, according to the 78.5% of respondents (157) who agreed that “responding to reviews is a good way for businesses to stand out from their competitors.”
These aren’t just interesting statistics — they’re actionable pieces of data your restaurant can use to improve its overall level of customer service and satisfaction. The figures above make it clear that, simply by delivering what reviewers want and expect, you can appeal to larger numbers of potential customers, retain a higher percentage of your existing customers, and stand out from competitors more successfully — not to mention improve your local rankings on Google.
Now the question is, what’s the best approach to responding?
How to Respond to Positive or Negative Reviews of Your Restaurant
As our survey shows, consumers tend to feel positively about restaurants (and other businesses) that respond to ratings and reviews. However, that doesn’t mean you can write anything you want in your reply. There are a few established best practices that we recommend you follow when writing your responses to customers — and, on the other hand, some review response mistakes that you should be careful to avoid making.
Whether you need advice on dealing with positive reviews, negative reviews, old reviews, or even reviews that were meant for somebody else’s business — we’ve got you covered in every scenario. And if you don’t have time to implement the review reply tips we’ve linked to here, don’t worry: you can always count on our team of response scribes to manage the writing for you, delivering personalized, on-brand replies in 24 hours or less.
Learn more about how our review reply service works, explore our other services like review monitoring, or browse our blog and the articles below for even more pointers on dealing with customer comments and ratings:
- How to Respond to 1-Star Ratings and Negative Reviews
- How to Respond to 3-Star Ratings and Neutral Reviews
- How to Respond to 5-Star Ratings and Positive Reviews
- How to Get More Reviews from Your Customers
Online Review Management Services for Restaurants and Restaurant Marketing Agencies
From listings management to review generation and removal, our platform is designed for the restaurant industry. With 24-hour response turnaround, award-winning design, and expert customer service, Shout About Us empowers franchises, brands, and agencies to save time, boost efficiency, and drive revenue.
Find out why brands like Sizzler, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Broadway Restaurant Group, Turnkey Marketing, V Digital Services, and more rely on Shout About Us for secure, scalable solutions to all of their review management needs — and learn how your restaurant or agency could benefit, like saving up to 96 hours of in-house work during your first month. Book a demo to see our review response service and platform in action.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.