Google Restaurant Reviews – Everything you need to know

Good to know, Marketing, Trends

Restaurant owners know that positive restaurant reviews are vital. Why is that, though? But which platforms are relevant? How do you get guests for reviewing your restaurant favorably? Moreover, what can you do if they do the opposite? Everything you need to know about customer feedback in this post!

By Max Falkenstern

The power behind recommendations – when guest reviews sell your restaurant

Have you been to the “Golden ox Steakhouse”? Not yet?! Then you’ve really missed out. I was only there last Thursday – the rump steak was heavenly tender. And then the service; they were super friendly and even bought us shots at the end. Honestly, you really have to go there!

Does the above conversation sound familiar to you?

I’m sure we’ve all received personal recommendations like this at some point or even shared them ourselves. It’s called word of mouth. We probably don’t need to tell you that these recommendations (yes, even more than ads) help to promote your restaurant, do we? Well, otherwise you probably wouldn’t have clicked on this post in the first place.

We all tend to trust friends’ and family’s recommendations more than the latest glossy brochure. Their words carry more weight because we take their feedback as authentic. It is not biased, not manipulative. Simply genuine! That’s why testimonials are the best salesmen. After all, the direct sale is not the main focus of the recommendation, but rather the desire to “do something good for others”.

Restaurant reviews help guests to make a decision

Word of mouth doesn’t just stop at friends and relatives, however. Customer reviews can also be found everywhere online: from business directories such as the Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) to yellow pages, review sites (TripAdvisor, Yelp) and social media (Facebook, Instagram) through to booking and delivery services – filled-in stars and comments point the way everywhere.

Public figures indicate that restaurant reviews play an important role in more than just your own gut feeling.

  • According to a recent study by Capterra (in german), 85% of respondents take reviews into account when making a decision for or against a visit.
  • In fact, restaurant reviews have a significant influence on more than one in ten people.
  • Alongside Amazon, Google is one of the most influential review platforms, far ahead of social channels and independent review portals.

As a restaurateur, two main conclusions can be drawn from the above key data:

  1. Guest reviews represent an objective criterion for many when choosing a restaurant. The challenge is therefore to get as many reviews and positive ratings as possible.
  2. Even if there are a large number of review websites, as a restaurateur you should focus primarily on Google. Especially as reviews published about your business can have a direct impact on your search engine ranking.
So remember: Google is a must, the rest is optional.

Requesting a Google review – when is the perfect time?

To answer this question, all you need to do is put yourself in the perspective of your guests. “You had a wonderful evening at the restaurant – the food and service were first class.”

  • Professional service staff seize the opportunity to mention the review option politely when handing over the bill.
  • A stronger effect ( also on the tip, by the way) is achieved if you offer your guests a free shot or candy.

But even then, many will still decline because they first have to google your restaurant profile and find the feedback form there.

Your job is therefore to make the guest’s journey to the Google review form simple and convenient.

Über dein firmeninternes Google My Business Konto generierst du einen Bewertungslink, den du wiederum mit deinen Gästen teilen kannst.
You generate a review link via your Google Business account, which you can then share with your guests..

Google itself conveniently provides a special review link just for this purpose. You can generate your review link with just a few clicks in your Google business profile.

From this point on, it’s on to the question: “How do I get guests to click on this link?”

Some suggestions:

  • You can use this link to create a QR code for Google reviews; this is easy to do using online tools such as the QR code generator.
  • You can then put the QR code on your tables or print it on the menu.
  • It could also be used in flyers, which the service staff then bring to your guests together with the bill. Or which you can add to orders with a short greeting message.

There are no limits to creativity.

Why it makes sense to ask for a restaurant review immediately after your visit

Booking Notifications for Restaurants

Sometimes guests are more willing to write a detailed restaurant review before they leave. The best way to target this group is via e-mail notifications.

This is how it works:

  • Online reservation systems (including resmio) collect guests’ contact details anyway for the purpose of the reservation request, including the e-mail address for the reservation reminder.
  • Your feedback management tool now automatically sends an e-mail with a direct link to the restaurant review about 24 hours after the booking.
  • If you wish, you can also leave a lovely message or a discount coupon (e.g. for a free drink) in the customizable email notification – this will leave a lasting impression and motivate guests to return.

The time gap between visit and review leaves room for a reflective evaluation, which ideally results in a comprehensive guest review with lots of praise and helpful ideas for improvement. This makes the customer review authentic, which draws the attention of other prospective customers (remember: the power of recommendations). And you may benefit from fresh ideas for your kitchen and service. A win-win scenario! And above all, without any manual effort, without active interference and therefore without investing a lot of time.

Get more google reviews for your restaurant trough resmio
Example of an automated feedback mailing with a direct link to Google (resmio)
Can I ask guests whose stay was a long time ago for a guest review by e-mail?

What could be more obvious than activating loyal regular customers for a positive restaurant feedback? But be careful when sending emails to guests whose last visit was more than a few days ago. When processing the contact details of those guests for marketing purposes, you require an explicit, verified consent from the guest in each individual case.

Does every restaurant review have the same value? The significance of local guides

Beispiel für Google Local Guides

You might think that it makes no difference whether Annette Schmidt or Lieschen Müller leaves you a positive review. But it can if Miss Müller is a Local Guide and Miss Schmidt is not. You have probably already noticed that certain user profiles are highlighted in the Google reviews by a corresponding label (“Local Guide” label and star icon on the profile avatar).

Local Guides are certified Google users who participate within the program of the same name and have accumulated a certain number of virtual points. As you may have guessed, they earn these points primarily by writing reviews and uploading photos. In return, they receive special rewards.

Of course, Google is not doing things for its own sake, but rather is interested in retaining users in its own ecosystem. In addition, Google increases the relevance of its own platform through third-party reviews.

Let’s remember: Google is important to us because this is where guests search for restaurants and user reviews play a major role in the evaluation process.

The status of local guides as “tourist guides” is also interesting for restaurateurs. This brings us back to the main topic of this post – trust, the key metric in referral marketing. Local Guides, both consciously and subconsciously, have a serious, professional appearance thanks to their label and the number of reviews they publish.

In short, if you can delight Local Guides, other guests will follow.

The value of review platforms

Google Business is a must, as we mentioned at the beginning.

Google Business is a must, as we mentioned at the beginning. So why invest time and effort in other review sites and business directories if maintaining your Google profile keeps you busy?

Well, this is due to two basic factors:

  1. Prospects and guests use TripAdvisor, Yelp and the like to find out about and share experiences at attractive restaurants in their area – so what is more obvious than being close to your customers? Doing so gives you the opportunity to manage your online reputation to some extent.
  2. Listings on relevant platforms make a direct impact on the visibility of your restaurant on the web. If your restaurant is listed on important online websites, you are letting Google know: “Hey, my restaurant exists, my restaurant is relevant.”

That sounds reasonable so far – but it also involves a lot of work. Setting up and updating profiles, noting log-in credentials and, if necessary, sharing them with those in charge who will (later) take over support. Plus, on which online portals should you sign up in the first place? Very few restaurateurs have the time to get an overall view first.

Updating your restaurant profile is child play with resmio
resmio’s partner network supports restaurateurs in managing their online presence.

The solution is a partner network that allows you to manage all connected profiles centrally from one system. If, for example, opening hours or the link to your menu changes, all it takes is a few mouse clicks and the changes are online on all connected portals and directories in no time at all. A priceless advantage.

Negative restaurant reviews – Dealing with customer complaints

Exquisite cuisine, an all-round feel-good service, an inspiring ambience – in short: guests simply have got to feel at home in your restaurant. But maybe they don’t? Because even the best restaurants are not safe from negative reviews. Sooner or later, the inevitable hair in the soup will be found and a crushing 1-star review will be written on an otherwise flawless record.

Just don’t fall into blind actionism and respond with a rant.

After all, remember that your replies are public for everyone to see.

Even if offending responses from the host are reasonable, they can still come across as arrogant and condescending to others. Nobody wants to be labelled as a “choleric restaurant owner”.

Some tips for dealing with negative online feedback:

  • Before writing a response, take a deep breath, read the review (again) calmly and then write a precise, professional response addressing the points of criticism.
  • Avoid making judgmental and sarcastic comments at all costs, especially if the review is fundamentally wrong.
  • Thank the author for the review in a polite and personal way, but then get to the main point quickly.

Can’t I simply ignore negative user reviews?

We strongly recommend that you avoid simply sitting out problems and ignoring negative reviews. The majority of customers expect a response to their feedback. No standard phrases and generalized statements, but instead a personal statement. According to the Capterra study, 91% of people surveyed read such responses.

A statement not only shows your appreciation for guest feedback. You also show that you deal with any mistakes openly and honestly. It’s called “positive error culture” – not pushing aside flaws, but rather discussing them openly – this builds trust. If you can’t convince the critics, you might be able to win over undecided prospective customers who read your statement.

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Summary – restaurant reviews are free, effective marketing tool

In conclusion: Authentic recommendations from guests are powerful selling points. Unlike ads, guest reviews are more trustworthy. In order to attract new customers, it is therefore essential to generate honest restaurant reviews.

Google is one of the most important review platforms for restaurateurs. On the one hand, due to its high relevance for your prospective customers. Secondly, because Google reviews have an impact on the restaurant’s online visibility. As a result, your focus should be on getting as many satisfied customers as possible to leave a review on your Google Business profile.

You can achieve the goal mentioned above quite easily and conveniently by automating the feedback process. Service providers such as resmio automatically send out email reminders after the guests’ visit, which contain a direct link to a feedback form.

Please respond to any complaints in a polite, personal and professional manner. Ignoring negative feedback is not a viable option; in fact, it can actually harm your business.

Topics: Attract Guests|Google|Marketing

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