While social media can be a great promotional tool, the downside comes down to one concept - reputation management. As a recent article in Hospitality Technology points out, customers in today’s social media-obsessed world are quick to head to their favorite outlets online to praise – or complain about – businesses they frequent.
By promoting public commentary on your business, you are exposing your soul in terms of any flaws in your operation. If you feel good about the quality and level of service at your establishment, this can be an amazing opportunity. If you don’t, it may well backfire.
The way you respond to customers is also critical. Responding unprofessionally or inappropriately – even for a small, local business – can become a viral nightmare in a matter of hours.
According to Hospitality Technology’s 2014 Customer Engagement Technology Study, 90% of respondents use restaurant social media. Only about 1/5 of those, however, use technology to monitor and analyze that content. Employing third-party technology to monitor their feeds enables businesses to respond quickly and effectively. The publication also predicts that 2015 will be a big year for social loyalty platforms, which provide monetary rewards for customers’ social activity – creating even more feedback to manage.
Honest feedback from your customers ultimately serves to help you in your daily operations – provided you’re open to listening and altering things if it’s really necessary. Should you listen to one crabby customer? Maybe, maybe not. But if you are consistently getting bad reviews from your customers on bad service or poorly prepared dishes, it might be time to hire a few new servers or take a good, long look at your menu.
A few tips for managing your restaurant social media channels:
- Monitor social media pages closely and respond to clients promptly – especially if they had a bad experience. Aim for a reply in 30 minutes to one hour – even during off hours.
- Respond professionally, and remember the age-old adage: The customer’s always right.
- Consider using third-party technology for restaurant brand management. It can scan for comments both inside and outside your own channels, as well as giving you a broad view of feedback trends.
- Listen. If your customers are telling you there’s a problem, it very well may be true.