In our digital age, a negative Yelp review can be catastrophic. Restaurant goers can take a look at previous customers’ dining experiences on sites like Yelp and Open Table for advice on whether they should try a restaurant or not. A single click can lead you to the comments section of a restaurant’s Instagram page, where users frequently drop notes on their dining experiences. While there’s no way to prevent bad reviews altogether, restaurants can make use of a few tips to help boost positive online reviews, thus increasing their average online rating. Building relationships with restaurant patrons in-person and online is the general rule for encouraging online praise. Below are five ways to increase positive online reviews. 

Pay Attention to Past Reviews

The first step to generating better online reviews of your restaurant is to reflect on the old ones. This means taking note of the good and bad things your customers have said about your restaurant’s food, service and everything else in between. Reading and examining past reviews, both good and bad, can reveal areas of strength and improvement in your restaurants, effectively telling you where to focus your energy. 

Consider Asking for Reviews from Loyal Customers

By building relationships with your restaurant’s repeat customers, you can easily gain praise for your restaurant by word of mouth and online. Customers who you have been serving for ages come back for a reason – they love your food, service, and energy! It is likely that these diners are already recommending your establishment to friends and family, so why not ask them to take their compliments online? Asking loyal customers to give your restaurant a shout out on sites like Yelp will be easy due to the established relationship. Be sure to ask in person and after customers have paid for their meal to ensure the request is personal and comfortable. 

Highlight your Web Presence on Social Media

Younger customers who navigate to Instagram and Facebook to find reviews of restaurants before choosing to dine out may not be comfortable reviewing an establishment just because a manager asks them to. By making your web and social media presence known, those active on these platforms will be encouraged to share their thoughts on your restaurant without being prompted. Follows and comments are untraditional forms of good reviews like the ones posted on Yelp, but they are still forms of praise. To take it one step further, consider linking your restaurant’s online review pages on your social media platforms and your website. 

Respond to Bad Reviews Online and on Social Media

Taking measures to ensure your customers that they have been heard after an unsatisfactory experience while dining with you is important. Thoughtfully respond to those who felt that their restaurant experience was unpleasant. When reviews come in the form of tweets or Instagram comments, send over a private message to inquire more about the experience and ask for ways your restaurant can improve. This goes back to the idea of taking bad reviews into account so that you can generate more positive ones in the future.  

Make Reviewing Simple and Easy

Restaurant patrons just don’t have the time to wait for an employee to bring over a survey sheet and pencil to write a restaurant review. To generate more positive online reviews, it’s obvious that a restaurant needs to increase the number of reviews altogether. So one necessary step is to make reviewing your restaurant as simple as possible. This could mean establishing a kiosk at the front of your restaurant where guests can use an iPad to answer a few questions before leaving. Additionally, you can partner with reservation software that suggests diners reflect on their experience. OpenTable is a widely-used software where customers can book a table and are encouraged to review the restaurant afterward.   

Restaurants will benefit from positive reviews no matter how popular they are. While bad reviews live forever, there is always room to improve your reputation and build relationships with customers who have obtained nothing but pleasant experiences at your restaurant. Encouraging diners to give your restaurant a shout out online and consistently responding to positive and negative social media comments will help your business maintain these relationships in the digital realm. Keeping customers happy online may be a bit of extra work – but it will be rewarding when positive reviews of your restaurant start to roll in.