The importance of responding to reviews – Dan Hawkie, Head of Sales

“We’ve just had a table complain about their food and drinks”

“Just ignore them”


Is there really any difference between guests leaving feedback at the table, on their way out of your venue, calling in the day afterwards or leaving a review online?

Just because guests have more avenues to be able to leave feedback these days it shouldn’t make any form of feedback less valuable than another.

Us Brits love to complain about some things. The weather, people jumping queues, public transport, PPI cold calls! But when it comes to food and drink in-particular we are not so forthcoming. Yougov research in 2017 found that a third of Brits rarely or never send their food back if there’s something wrong with it – even to the point that 3 in 100 still wouldn’t send it back even if it was the wrong meal.

So if we’re not so comfortable complaining about food and drink, what are we left to do? Some might prefer to write an email or a letter and some may prefer to share their review online.

As consumers, the sharing of people’s opinions is seen as a great way for us to see whether our purchasing decision is justified. Shopping has changed thanks to the likes of Ebay and Amazon. A report conducted by Simon Kucher found that 58% of UK consumers refer to ratings before making their purchase decision when it comes to travel and hospitality.

Can we really complain about the shift in the culture of leaving reviews, when we rely on it so heavily as consumers? No! We need to embrace it and stand out in the competitive marketspace.

The best operators accept guest feedback with open arms, not only that but they truly look into what the guests have told them to see whether they can improve their operation as a result.

Isn’t it only fair that we, therefore, at least acknowledge the feedback given?

Don’t get me wrong, as an ex-operator myself I would be astonished at some of the reviews left on social channels for my sites from guests complaining that the restaurant was fully booked when trying to book for a special occasion through to fellow guests having too much of a good time at a party they attended.

I didn’t ignore these reviews, I never would. The guests have had an emotive reaction to our operation and I must respect that.

The majority of customers expect a reply on review sites. What’s more is that businesses experience a 16% boost in customer advocacy from answered complaints on reviews sites. Meanwhile, businesses that ignore complaints on review sites experience a 37% decline in customer advocacy.

Do you need more reason to start responding to your reviews? How about the following:-

A Harvard Business Review found that when hotels start responding to reviews, they received 12% more reviews and their ratings increase, on average, by 0.12 stars.

While these gains may seem modest, TripAdvisor rounds average ratings to the nearest half star: A hospitality operator with a rating of 4.26 stars will be rounded up to a 4.5, while another property with 4.24 stars will be rounded down to a 4.

We all know how important Google is in today’s competitive market space but were you aware that reviews and your responses have an impact on your SEO and local ranking? If you increase the amount of reviews you receive on these channels and you respond to them then this will have a positive effect. From the Harvard Business review finding above, the impacts of responding to reviews will encourage more reviews and the cycle continues. After all it does make sense, if you knew the business you were reviewing cared about your reviews you’d be much more likely to review them than one that looks like they don’t even acknowledge guest feedback – what’s the point in reviewing them?

What about the following stats:-

  • 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews
  • Nearly all (96%) of 18-34-year-olds read review responses
  • 91% of 18-34 year old consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 or more stars
  • Consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling able to trust a local business
  • For the sixth year running, consumers are most likely to read reviews for restaurants and cafés. In fact, even more consumers read restaurant reviews this year than they did the year before.
  • 49% value the quantity of reviews – up from 46% last year, and 35% in 2016
  • 30% of consumers highly value businesses responses to reviews
  • For the fourth year running, a business’s average star rating is the most important review factor.

Or these:

  • Star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business
  • 57% of consumers would use a business with a three star rating 
  • 94% of consumers would use a business with a four star rating 
  • 88% trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, vs. 83% in 2014
  • 88% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decision
  • Between one and three bad online reviews would be enough to deter the majority (67%) of shoppers from purchasing a product or service
  • If a business resolves its issue quickly and efficiently, 95% of unhappy customers returns back to your business

And when should you be responding to your reviews?

As soon as possible of course. If you have potential customers looking for a venue and checking the local area out on Google reviews or TripAdvisor you want to be seen as pro-active. Not only that but any issues that are coming up in the business need to be rectified before it effects other guests.

So, how do you find the time to respond to all these reviews?

Become more efficient. Use technology to support you in this mission, don’t rely on staff having to login to 5 or 6 different systems multiple times a day. Use a system that can collate all of your reviews into one place and give your teams clear instruction on how to deal with responses.

Avoid emailing throughout the business to find suitable resolutions. Empower your teams and be brought in the loop only when absolutely necessary.

If you have the right system in place it will give you analysis on how well your teams are responding and can take you straight to responses to sense check how your teams are responding.

Feed It Back supports hospitality operators due to its integration with review platforms like Google, TripAdvisor and Facebook to bring reviews into one platform and allow you to respond in the same place. With our customer base now looking to use channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to communicate or review operators we can also bring in DM’s and/or posts from these channels. It gives teams much more time to deal with the responses and head office a better visibility as to trends and performance of sites, whereas our case management platform helps to keep all internal and external communications in the one place. Feed It Back users are typically responding to all reviews within 24 hours, ensuring consumer expectations are being fully met.

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