How to use Christmas Feedback to Grow your Revenue in 2020
Your customers may call it the most wonderful time of the year: gathering with loved ones, surrounded by… delicious food. As a restaurant owner, however, you know it best as the busiest time of the year.
It is no secret that the holiday period in the hospitality industry attracts more consumers than any other time of the year. For marketing teams in the industry, it’s also a hectic time finalizing Christmas campaigns, special menus, promotions and distributing marketing materials to multiple business locations. On top of that, marketers need to keep in mind forecasting and budgeting for 2020 campaigns and tools. It’s also the time to look back at the past 12 months and look into what needs to improve in the upcoming year, both operationally and online.
You are probably well aware that customers react to seasonal celebrations in very predictable ways that can be leveraged. Did you know that the increased amount of restaurant visitors during the Christmas period triggers up to 35% more online reviews compared to the rest of the year?
So, how to capitalize on the extra feedback and make sure that the customer journey during the holidays is optimized? Let’s be honest, it is not possible to prevent negative reviews altogether, but businesses are in control of their online reputation on review platforms. Read on to find out how to make review management help hospitality businesses scale.
Growth starts with customer engagement
According to a study of a dataset of 87177 reviews, carried out over the past 3 years, an increasing amount of feedback on platforms such as Google, TripAdvisor or Facebook starts in early November. It rises even more in the weeks leading up to Christmas, with the biggest peak of the year, taking place in the week of Christmas Eve (up to 35% more reviews) and lasting until the second week of January. This recurring consumer behavior proves that reviewing has become a significant part of the consumer journey, especially at this time of the year.
Harvard Business Review’s research of review platforms has shown that frequently responding to customer feedback online results in 12% more reviews and an increase in ratings by 0.12 stars in the long term. For this reason, it is especially during Christmas that business owners need to make sure to listen and respond to their guests’ online suggestions consistently. This will not only keep the restaurant’s online reputation as good as possible throughout this busy time, but also ensure the customers’ return after the holidays, directly impacting revenue in the new year.
Today, a total of 82% of consumers look up reviews before deciding on a purchase, with 68% willing to pay as much as 15% more for the same service as long as they can be sure that the experience will be better. This is why being responsive online should be one of your priorities in December, when the extra pressure can have a direct impact on service quality and result in extreme review sentiments. Responding to these extremes in the right way can completely change your image online.
How to manage online feedback during the busy holiday season?
Start with going through all reviews and comments in a timely manner to show guests that their opinion matters. Try to answer them regularly no matter if the sentiment is positive or negative. The most successful Fast Casual chains use this tactic not only to improve their communication with the customers, but also to improve their search rankings. While all feedback needs to be answered, our research has revealed that Google Reviews should be prioritized, as that is where we have identified the most significant increase in both the ratings and amount of reviews. Not sure how to respond to some of the feedback? Let this article serve you as a cheat sheet to answering the trickiest ones.
With the additional marketing responsibilities around the Christmas season, it might not be realistic to respond to all reviews in one go, after all there are dozens of review sites to be monitored. A quick way to benefit from the extra feedback is to consolidate reviews into a tool with one simple interface. This makes it easy to prioritize and batch them for review in a short recurring time slot. There are plenty of solutions to help you aggregate and prioritize your reviews, in order to keep this process as efficient as possible.
Regardless of whether your marketing team or a location manager is responsible for review management, it is still very important for your restaurant staff to be prepared. Make sure that the staff is trained on how to respond well to unsatisfied guests to minimize negative reviews and share tips on how to leverage on positive experiences by requesting customer feedback in person. Remember that every negative review is an opportunity to reverse the situation, and encourage guests to return by offering a discount, leading to decreased churn rate and improved online reputation.
How to proactively use this time of the year to increase ratings?
The easiest way to collect valuable data from customers is to simply request it. As mentioned earlier, staff should be trained to interact with guests offline, whereas online reviewers should be encouraged to follow-up their ratings with more descriptive feedback.
Considering that the end of the year is near, there is no better time to send out a personalized customer satisfaction survey by email. To increase the chances of receiving a lot of data in return, it should be as effortless as possible. A Net Promoter Score (NPS) rating can help to measure overall satisfaction and brand loyalty and incorporating open-ended questions will encourage customers to share more qualitative data. Customizing the survey to tailor your customer group and keeping it short and sweet will have a direct impact on the final response rate.
The aftermath: What can you do with all the data you receive during Christmas?
While Christmas takes place once a year, it doesn’t mean that review management should be a one-off activity. A review analysis can prove very insightful in preparing the strategy for the new year, but it will bring the best results if done on a regular basis throughout the year. This way, business owners can learn how their service operations can be improved to enhance the guest experience. Once this becomes clear, it’s important to prepare a plan for the implementation of the necessary changes as soon as possible.
After all, returning customers should be pleasantly surprised during their next visit to ensure more positive reviews. Engaging with guests online regularly is crucial in making data-driven business decisions and greatly contributes to a steady scaling process.