Operators can’t stop the flood of online reviews that shape their restaurant’s reputation in the social media era. But there might be a way to mute their effect. Delivery specialist DoorDash thinks the trick is to create a metric in which reviews are just one of several data points to consider. Customer insight solution company Original Review’s idea is to capture real-time feedback from diners so concerns can be resolved before they can be griped about on the Internet.
The results of a new Original Review survey of 500 active review site users make the case that operators should pay close attention to their online reputation. Among this survey’s findings:
• 42 percent of respondents said they need to read at least five positive reviews before trying a new restaurant.
• 55 percent of respondents said they only need to read between two and four negative reviews before deciding not to try a new restaurant.
Original Review’s approach is to help full-service operators get ahead of problems before customers feel the urge to broadcast their discontent on social media.
“With Original Review, restaurant owners and managers will have the ability to know exactly what their customers are thinking and feeling in real-time, enabling them to correct any customer issues immediately or provide positive feedback to servers, while also gathering customer contact information and numerous reviews that will be posted and available to all consumers at www.originalreview.com,” the company says.
Its survey also found that negative experiences are the key pain point for operators and customers alike. The numbers show that:
• 52 percent of respondents said they did not report a problem with their meal to their server or their manager because they felt embarrassed, but 83 percent of respondents said that participating in an online rating of the food and server would make it easier for them to do so.
• 90 percent of respondents agreed they would be likely to return to a restaurant where they had a bad experience if they were able to communicate directly with management and felt their concerns were taken seriously.
• 93 percent of respondents said they stopped visiting a restaurant because of one bad experience with the food.
Operators face a different challenge with the delivery aspect of their business. The issue: consuming restaurant food that’s been delivered to the customer’s home may produce a dining experience much different than eating that same meal on the restaurant’s premises would. Online reviews that describe one experience may not accurately depict the other. DoorDash thinks its new “Delight score” metric is the way to address it.
DoorDash says is has delivered millions of meals since it launched, “and each one has fed our evolving algorithm with quantitative and qualitative data that helps make the next delivery even better. By combining a number of data points including restaurant popularity, customer feedback, and much more, the Delight score can help customers discover new restaurants in their neighborhood or help them decide between two different spots with similar food.”
This could be valuable information for customers. So what’s the benefit to operators?
“While customers now have the transparency to make well-informed decisions on where to order, restaurants can also use the score to improve their service and provide the best delivery experience possible. We are constantly tweaking the algorithm to ensure accurate scores and we update Delight scores regularly to incorporate the latest ratings, feedback and delivery data.”
This may be a little more transparency than restaurants want. But the DoorDash rating (a 1-10 scale, 10 being the highest) is primarily based on objective criteria. A big complaint about online review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor is that reviews posed there are subjective or, in some cases, maybe even imaginary.
The DoorDash and Original Review solutions may be worth a look for your restaurant. But avoiding and/or dealing with negative reviews is an issue more restaurant operators may have to pay attention to in the future. In the meantime, go here to see other tips that might stem the tide of social media criticism.
Contact Bob Krummert: [email protected]