The customer journey is always changing. As technology evolves, so does the way in which people buy products or services. We’ve gone from newspaper and print ads, to radio, television, the early days of the internet, and now what we call the Internet of Things — everything at the touch of a button, on devices small enough to fit into your pocket.
Today’s diners are more educated than ever before. They’ve done their research on a restaurant, menu, or your service before they ever get in touch with you to book a table. Marketing of course plays some part but is typically more of an awareness exercise than promotional these days.
Hospitality brands are starting to wake up to the fact that they no longer control the narrative of their brand: consumers do. The famous Warren Buffett quote, “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently” has never been more true than it is today. It’s what people are saying about you online, across all of the different channels they use, that really holds the key to whether a person will choose your establishment, or one of your competitors, for their next meal or drinks out.
For example, the first place a person looks is no longer your website, it’s your Google My Business (GMB) profile. What people see here can often be a deciding factor in whether or not they choose you, or continue their search and arrive at a competitor. In 2019, the majority of searches were ‘zero click’, meaning the searcher found what they were looking for at GMB and went no further. Add to this social media, industry-specific review sites like Tripadvisor, and then sites like Bing and Yelp, and you’ve potentially got hundreds of different sources of feedback to manage if you’re an enterprise-level restaurant, café, or bar group with multiple locations and want to be chosen.
REPUTATION EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT
The concept of Reputation Experience Management, or RXM for short, has been gaining traction recently as brands realise the value of a strong online presence. It’s all about making sure you have a complete understanding of what is being said about your brand, and your locations, online — even if you’re not ‘tagged’ in any of the posts or comments.
Hospitality sector brands especially have a wealth of information about their customers available to them, especially when it comes to their habits online — so ensure you’re putting it to use! Whether it’s through AI or a software solution (or both), you can gain operational insight into consumer behaviours and use this information to influence their strategy.
You can use this information to delve into what your customers are saying about your brand, menus, locations, and their overall experience. Dive into your customer sentiment left online through reviews and social sites, then take time to understand and analyse it correctly, and you can gain a head-start against your competition. You can also keep up-to-date with your inbound reviews, too. Reputation.com recommends responding to every single review you receive, even if it’s just a simple ‘thank you’. Are you in a position to do this? Remember that the right response to a negative review can completely flip the situation on its head, and can turn an angry customer into a happy one. Reviews especially play a big part in Google’s local search algorithm too, so in theory, the more reviews you receive the more views your GMB profiles will get.