In today’s modern world an online review can be just as influential as a personal recommendation. Web traffic and online presence is hugely important and a strong visibility online can be the difference between a thriving business and a struggling one.
By growing your online presence, you can attract more and more people to your cafe. A great way of doing this is through reviews.
The good news is that you can use these online reviews to improve your coffee shop marketing, attracting new customers and building stronger relationships with existing ones.
Let’s take a look at why reviews really matter. And after that, we’ll go over what you can do about them, with tips on how to get more reviews, deal with bad ones, and get more from good ones.
Why Online Reviews Matter
Not only do your online reviews have an influence on the opinions of potential customers, but they also have an important impact on how many people find out about your coffee shop in the first place. For example, the number and quality of reviews on Google is an important factor contributing to a cafe’s ranking position for nearby searches (searches along the lines of “coffee shop near me”). Since most people go for one of the top three or so results, you want to rank well.
One of the biggest review sites is TripAdvisor. People who are new to the area or just looking to find somewhere different will often search TripAdvisor online or in the app. And again, where your place appears in the search results will be influenced by reviews.
So, there are two key benefits to having lots of good reviews:
- More people find you because your café ranks higher in Google and review results
- People who find your café are more likely to visit after seeing positive reviews
How To Get More Reviews
While just waiting for reviews to come in may work, you can also be proactive about it.
Ask your customers for reviews. Online, on social media, on flyers in the café, on a notice board, or in person.
Use your WiFi to your advantage. Ask for a review on your landing page or via an email address capture form.
Make it easy. Create a link that goes straight to a review site. Use short URLs that people can type into their phone whilst sitting in the café.
Why You Should Reply To Reviews
It’s important to respond to all reviews once they’ve been left, especially the bad ones.
No one likes a bad review, especially café owners who have invested their blood, sweat, and tears into a café. An unfair review can be truly heartbreaking. However, by responding to a bad review you are showing other potential customers that you care about their experience and hopefully showing that the bad experience was in some way exceptional.
It’s also worth taking the time to reply to good or mediocre reviews too. Showing your appreciation is a great way to encourage further visits and feedback.
How To Respond to Bad Reviews
Unfortunately, customers are more likely to leave a review after a bad experience than a good one, so chances are you’ll experience a negative review at some point. However, if a 1-star review and plausible-sounding complaint goes unanswered, it won’t send a good message to other people using the website.
There’s a good way and a bad way to respond to negative reviews. Keep these guidelines in mind to leave the best possible impression on other potential customers.
Keep It Professional
It’s so easy to be defensive or even aggressive when criticised. It’s a natural human response. And a bad review can really hurt. However, it’s important to stay professional.
Start off by replying publicly and promptly. (Perhaps not straight away if you’re feeling emotional, but within 24 hours!) Use your judgement to explain what happened as reasonably as possible. You’re educating and informing potential customers by doing this. If needed, take the conversation private by providing contact details or letting them know that you’ll be sending a direct message.
Focus on The Facts
Separate what happened from how the reviewer feels about what happened. While you are likely to be responsible for what actually took place, it’s much harder to control how people feel.
Think About The Reviewer’s Expectations
If the facts of what happened were acceptable in your opinion, but the reviewer’s response was very negative, the issue probably comes down to their expectations.
Were the reviewer’s expectations appropriate for your business? If not, is there anything you can do to manage potential customers’ view of your cafe? A note in the menu or on your price board, or a comment from the cashier about waiting times, can go a long way towards managing expectations and increasing customer patience.
Admit Mistakes That Were Made
They do happen. Maybe someone had to wait a bit too long, or the drink simply wasn’t up to scratch. It’s painful to admit, and it’s not the case that the customer is always right, but sometimes mistakes do happen. And if you’re new, then teething problems are almost inevitable.
If mistakes did happen, explain why you think they happened, why that customer’s experience was unusual and what you’re going to do to ensure they have a better experience next time.
The most important thing to remember is to be proactive. By quickly and publicly dealing with online reviews, you can dramatically improve the reputation of your café. It can help stop problems early on before they escalate and attract new customers too. Make responding to reviews part of your regular routine and you can help encourage sustained growth for your business.