THE BREAD AND BUTTER OF YOUR BRAND
“To thine own self be true!” said Polonius in Hamlet…
Branding and brand reputation is all about being true to yourself and your message—all the time! This includes replying to online reviews.
The restaurant industry gets served more online reviews than any other profession.
Everybody eats and everybody has an opinion on food and how it is served. Even if you aren’t a restaurant, you still have online reviews and it is important to stay on brand.
Let’s back up. What is a Brand?
If you aren’t sure what a brand is exactly, then you probably haven’t established a solid, engaging brand for your company and you should—right away!
A brand identity will direct all marketing and communication efforts with one single focus and make it easy for you to decide how to sell your business to the world. Trust us, it takes the guess work out of marketing and will help you tremendously.
For those of you who know what your brand identity is, let’s move on.
Your Online Reputation is Very Important
Every business has an operations plan, most have a marketing plan, but very few have an online reputation management plan. Never underestimate the value of a solid online reputation management strategy.
The #1 mistake companies make withOnline Reputation Management (ORM): Pretending people are not talking about them, or being unaware of it.
The 2nd biggest mistake: Not addressing criticism as soon as possible.
And when you do address these criticisms, it is imperative to your identity to stay on brand and use the proper tone of voice and personality.
The 3rd biggest mistake: As an owner or part of the management team, being unable to separate emotions from reviews from guests. Let’s face it, it is no easy feat as an owner to see criticisms about your pride and joy. That’s why it is important to have a clear, unbiased professional to respond and attend to each experience.
Why is brand so important in online reviews?
The simple answer is: Your brand is the main dish at all times, not a side. Your brand should be considered in every motion your company makes.
This includes even the smallest details, such as:
- Colors and fonts
- Logos, taglines, slogans
- Employee dress codes and uniforms
- Atmosphere, music, art on the walls
- Place settings, dishes, food presentation
- Content creation
- Pretty much anything that has to do with your business
So it matters how you talk to your customers, in person and online.
For example, let’s assume you are a higher-priced, classy and refined restaurant with a reputation for fine dining. The atmosphere is low-key, hushed–romantic even. The wait staff is elegant, with matching uniforms and possibly white linen draped over their arms. A guest is upset that his steak wasn’t cooked right and takes to the internet to voice his opinion. What should your response be?
- We are sorry you didn’t like your steak, but we know how to fix steak. It’s what we do. You must not have ordered correctly. Please be specific.
- We are very sorry your steak was not cooked exactly to your specifications. We wish that each and every one of our guests is satisfied with their meal and we would appreciate the chance to make this right.
The first response might be what you WANT to say, but the second response is more in line with your brand and your culture.
This is a very obvious example so we can make our point, but sometimes brand is more subtle.
Here is an example from one of our clients:
If you identify with a Jester brand where jokes, fun, silliness, or maybe even sarcasm is at the heart of your brand identity, than this should also shine through in your responses to online reviews.
Here is an example from one of our clients who is a Jester brand:
Overcoming Bad Reviews with a Strong Brand
If people know your brand and you stay true to it, they will respect you when you own up to your mistakes in reviews. Not only that, they will also cheer you on when you stick up for yourself with unfair reviews.
One of our clients was a brand new restaurant that moved into a building previously occupied by a beloved long-time local restaurant. In the first few weeks of operations, their online reviews were tough. People were unhappy that the old place was gone and overly critical of the new place. We get it—change is hard!
Not only was the new restaurant fighting a local bias, but they were going through their own growing pains, as all new businesses do. Mistakes were made. Food was dropped—you know the drill. However, the restaurant worked hard at endearing themselves to the area by being a good neighbor. They apologized profusely, invited people back with an aggressive retention program, and eventually won the town over with their smiling “give the new kid a chance” attitude.
The main point here is that answering online reviews is tricky, especially when responding to negative reviews.
However, if you stay on brand and true to your identity it becomes easier.
Do you need help with your online reputation?
This is one of our daily specials. We love turning a negative review around, convincing a disgruntled guest to give it another try, and creating retention programs that will keep your guests coming back for more.
We know it is hard to find the time and energy to manage your online reputation and we are here to help you. Start turning things around online and boosting your star ratings today. We’ll get you there.