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If we go back to basics in trying to understand what leads to customer dissatisfaction, almost 100 percent of the time the answer is the same. We can confidently assert that dissatisfaction happens when expectations are not met. Whether we like it or not, the responsibility of setting expectations depends exclusively on us, and the way we message what we do.

Messaging and branding are intended to draw a picture to potential customers that entices, informs, and sets the stage for what they are likely to experience in your venue. Therefore, communicating the right message has the potential of resulting in improved trends in relation to your online reputation.

(Check out: “Brutal Yelp Reviews of Your Restaurant are Now a Civic Matter”)

For restaurants, this becomes far more important since the heart of your delivery is the food. Yes, people may review the ambiance and the service, but the bottom line is, they are there to eat, and their food should be exactly what you described in your online and offline advertising.

Missing items are a huge pet peeve of diners. A missing item can take place in two forms; first, when an item is featured in an online or offline menu, yet you cannot satisfy the order. Second, a food item that the customer orders but that the server fails to bring to the table. The second scenario is easier to fix than the first. Let us spend a little time discussing why managing your online menus posted on review sites is key to maintaining your brand and managing your online reputation.

As review sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, OpenTable and Foursquare evolve, incorporating a menu to the profile of your venue has become the norm. Just recently, even Facebook embraced the concept of hosting menus for restaurants in tandem with reviews. Given that these review sites are fantastic lead generators, you want to do everything in your power to create a one-stop-shop aimed at converting a shopper into a loyal customer and advocate.

Know where you can feature a menu

It is essential that you have familiarity with all the high-relevance review sites impacting your business. For the sake of efficiency, it is best to consolidate your review management to a single platform that gives you an easy-to-interpret snapshot with actionable items that matter to your business.

Online and offline menu alignment and consistency

To get started and ensure you are doing the right thing by your customers, conduct an across-the-board audit, identifying every possible channel of menu distribution, both offline and online. This could include take-out folders at local hotels, tourism offices, and welcome packages for conventions.

Once you have tackled the offline discrepancies, proceed to align all online review sites to display the exact same copy. If your menu includes seasonal offerings, either skip them, or create a spreadsheet along with calendar entries and appoint someone to be in charge of updating online menus accordingly.

Create a validation cycle

To best manage the design and wording of your review, it is important that you go back and data-mine your past reviews.

There is a wealth of information provided by past customers that specifically addresses the gaps you need to meet through improved or clarified menu content. This is essential to do, not only when you implement a menu alignment plan, but also to frequently tweak your menus in a manner that best and most clearly conveys what you have to offer.

Finally, a validation cycle of customer reviews will provide you with great insights that will help you develop promos, manage minimum pars, and test new menu items for popularity.

Overwhelmed by daily specials and seasonal features?

If you feel that keeping updated and accurate menus on all review sites is a cumbersome task, due to daily specials or seasonal features, there is no need to fret. A good way to manage that scenario is by only featuring a core menu and indicating that seasonal features and daily specials will be posted on social media such as Facebook. This is an excellent segue to gain social media followers and to better serve customers that convert into loyal patrons.

Tracking your online reviews to manage your online reputation is perhaps one of the most important ways to understand what drives your customer. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to deliver optimized menus that, in turn, trigger customer satisfaction that will, with a bit of luck, be conveyed via an online review.

Kevin Kent

Kevin is the Director of Finance and Operations at ReviewTrackers. Every day he finds creative ways to solve business owners' problems and identifies key issues to help them achieve top results.

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