Select Page

Using Guest Intelligence For Effective Restaurant Reputation Management

customer rates restaurant meal using online review site

customer rates restaurant meal using online review site

Restaurant reputation management is essential to retaining your current customers and attracting new ones. Online review sites and social media make it easy for guests to broadcast their opinions – good or bad – to anyone who’ll listen. Compared to other types of businesses, consumers are especially likely to check reviews before visiting a restaurant.

By staying on top of these reviews and engaging with them, you can take control of how your brand is perceived. And the added benefit of keeping up with online reviews is that they’re an excellent source of data on how well you’re performing, and what you need to change.

Here’s how to use guest intelligence to implement effective restaurant reputation management.

Common Restaurant Complaints Across the Industry

We monitor reviews for thousands of restaurants nationwide so we can track customer intelligence trends. Currently, many of the complaints we see are driven by issues related to staffing shortages.

Guest sentiment is declining around food preparation. Across multiple brands, we’re seeing more complaints about food being over or undercooked. This may reflect an increase in hiring inexperienced or cooks being overworked.

People are also complaining about cleanliness. Guests claim staff members are neglecting cleaning tasks. If this is the case, it’s likely due to restaurants being short-staffed. COVID-related complaints still come up, but overall they’re trending downward compared to earlier in the year.

Understanding broader trends in the industry can help you prepare your restaurant reputation management strategy. It helps you understand whether your reviews are outliers, and you can hone in on which issues matter most to consumers right now. Sign up for the Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot to receive up-to-date insights on what restaurant consumers are saying.

How to monitor restaurant customer satisfaction

Proactive monitoring of reviews and social media is essential to restaurant reputation management. And the most proactive action you can take happens before the customer leaves the restaurant. Solicit in-person feedback, especially among dine-in customers. Many online reviews mention that the customer didn’t finish their food. Restaurant staff should ask them for feedback and address their concerns before they leave the premises. This can prevent a bad review before it’s ever written, and keep the customer coming back.

Keeping up with review sites and social media can easily become overwhelming, especially for high-volume restaurants. Leverage a customer intelligence platform to automatically aggregate data and identify trends. The right solution will not only allow you to monitor reviews, it will also provide sophisticated tools to help you strategize:

  • Track new menu rollouts, promotions, and other key business initiatives
  • Provide a simplified, holistic social media sentiment analysis in addition to online reviews
  • Allow you to create customized alerts for specific brand reputation issues

The right customer intelligence software can also help inform your restaurant’s social media strategy by providing benchmarking against competitors, restaurant segments, and the industry as a whole.

How to Deal with Guest Complaints in Restaurants

One key to effective restaurant reputation management is to be seen responding. Potential customers are looking at whether you’re engaging with reviews. Customers understand that some negative reviews are inevitable. By responding, you show them that you’re open to feedback.

Good restaurant reputation management is two-pronged. For negative reviews, it’s important to focus on the customer and the cause of the complaint. After you respond specifically to their comments and offer a remedy (such as a discount code), address the source of the complaint. For example, if they’re complaining about bathroom cleanliness, that can be a cue to take a look at your operations plan to make sure your restrooms are being cleaned adequately and often enough.

Also, engage with positive reviews so that you can play up your positives. One study found that Yelp reviewers actually use more positive sentiment words than negative. Responding to that positive restaurant feedback draws attention to the things you do well, which potential customers will notice.

Take low scores seriously, especially when the customer complains about multiple aspects of your service. These are the customers who are least likely to return, and it’s important to nip their concerns in the bud so they’ll keep coming back.

And finally, simple steps can lead to easier five-star reviews. Small things, like making menu recommendations and updating customers on the status of their food can have a significant impact on restaurant customer satisfaction. With so many external factors causing price hikes, slower service and menu changes, proactive communication can be your best tool for preventing frustration.

Restaurant Reputation Management FAQs

How to measure customer satisfaction in a restaurant

To accurately monitor and measure restaurant customer satisfaction, operators need to track both customer review sites and social media mentions. It’s not as simple as checking ratings on popular review sites. To truly understand the factors driving restaurant guest satisfaction, many brands need to leverage sophisticated customer intelligence analytics.

How to respond to negative restaurant reviews

It’s important to face negative reviews head-on so customers can see that you’re listening and that you care about their concerns. In addition to providing a customer with compensation for a poor experience, identify the root cause of the complaint and address it so that it doesn’t continue to occur. This may involve employee training or a change in your processes.

What is customer intelligence?

Customer intelligence is the process of collecting and analyzing data about what your customers say about your business. Customer intelligence data is an important cornerstone for restaurant reputation management. When you can understand what your customers like and dislike about your restaurant, and how that sentiment compares to your competitors, you can respond effectively.

Simplify Restaurant Reputation Management with Guest Intelligence

A sophisticated customer intelligence platform can simplify reputation management and provide a depth of insight you won’t find elsewhere. With BBI’s guest intelligence platform, you receive quarterly reports showing which common terms are coming up in your restaurant’s reviews and how key topics are trending over time.

It offers a level of granularity that allows you to make smarter business decisions. For instance, you can track subtle changes in sentiment over time. Sometimes your rating drops incrementally. You may not see an influx of bad reviews, but you may be receiving less enthusiastic feedback. Our guest intelligence solution lets you catch that subtle change before it damages your reputation.

You can also customize which terms or areas of interest you want to monitor, such as menu categories or items. As you make changes to your business, you can see how customers respond. Learn more about what you can do with our Guest Intelligence platform.


Do you have the data you need to track guest satisfaction?

Speak with a product expert to learn how Black Box Guest Intelligence™ can help you impact your overall restaurant performance and build a workplace that fosters employee loyalty.

What do I get with my Black Box Guest Intelligence subscription?

  • Natural Language Processing sentiment analysis designed specifically for the restaurant industry
  • Integrated with main online social and review sites to give you the whole picture of what guests are saying in your restaurants
  • Measures guest satisfaction with unsolicited feedback of customer visits to your restaurants and your competitors
  • Benchmark against specific social data for top five competitors, segment and industry
  • Track performance of key business initiatives like menu rollouts and promotions
  • Create customizable alerts to track brand reputation issues so you can address them quickly

Fill out the form below to be contacted by a product expert

[pardot-form width=”460″ height=”950″ id=”2530″ title=”Demo Request”]

Restaurant Industry Performance Pulse: June 29, 2022

About Half of All States Experienced Negative Sales Growth, Only 10 Achieved Positive Traffic  Powered by Black Box Financial Intelligence™  Data through the week ending June 19, 2022  The week ending June 19, the restaurant industry settled into what...

Guests More Positive About Experience Overall; Wait Times an Area of Opportunity

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™ - May, 2022 Top 5 Restaurant Brands Financial metrics are “same-store” metrics & reported on a one-year comparison unless otherwise noted Overall, May 2022 was a good month for restaurant sales. The expected slowdown in...

Restaurant Industry Performance Pulse: June 23, 2022

All Restaurant Daypart Sales Higher Than Pre-Covid Levels. Still, Wise to Watch Lunch & Late-Night Laggers Powered by Black Box Financial Intelligence™ Data through the week ending June 12, 2022 Overall Sales & Traffic This week marks the 14th consecutive week...

6 of the Latest Trends in Restaurant Operations

Those who work in restaurant operations are probably the most involved individuals in a restaurant’s overall success. Restaurant operations involve any and all moving parts and pieces of the daily management of a restaurant. Thus, restaurant operations is one of the...

Restaurant Industry Performance Pulse: June 8, 2022

Dine-In Sales Continue Recovering for Restaurants, But the Traffic Erosion Continues Powered by Black Box Financial Intelligence™ Data through the week ending May 29, 2022 Restaurant sales growth remained unchanged from the previous week, which means it may be...

Restaurant Industry Performance Pulse: June 1, 2022

Sales Growth Softens To Lowest Level Since Late March Powered by Black Box Financial Intelligence™ Data through the week ending May 22, 2022 Restaurant sales growth fell during the week, with the industry seeing its worst results since week ending March...

Off-Premise Value Sentiment Negative, Overall Restaurant Service Improved

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™ – April, 2022 Top 5 Restaurant Brands Financial metrics are “same-store” metrics & reported on a 1-year comparison unless otherwise noted  The good news for the restaurant industry is that sales growth continues to be...

Restaurant Industry Performance Pulse: May 25, 2022

Restaurant Traffic Erosion Persists Despite Stronger Year-Over-Year Sales Powered by Black Box Financial Intelligence™ Data through the week ending May 15, 2022 Restaurant sales growth remained virtually unchanged compared to the previous week and has...

Restaurant Industry Performance Pulse: May 18, 2022

Traffic Growth Tumbled as Guest Check Growth Accelerates Powered by Black Box Financial Intelligence™ Data through the week ending May 8, 2022 Restaurant year-over-year sales growth slowed down relative to the previous week. The industry’s sales performance has...

4 Current Restaurant Human Resources Trends

It’s no secret that restaurant hiring has become increasingly difficult. In almost every town and city it seems that there’s several restaurants with signs in front advertising that they are hiring. The reasoning? The Great Resignation has made restaurant...

Restaurant Industry Performance Pulse: May 11, 2022

Restaurant Guest Counts Declining Year Over Year Powered by Black Box Financial Intelligence™ Data through the week ending May 1, 2022 Restaurant sales and traffic growth improved for the second consecutive week, both posting the best results since the first half of...

Black Box Intelligence™ Announces Acquisition of AreTheyHappy, a powerful Reputation Management suite

The acquisition adds class-leading AI and workflow automation to deliver customer insights and social management tools for Restaurant and Hospitality brands. May 10, Dallas, Texas and Ghent, Belgium - Black Box Intelligence™, the leading performance benchmarking...

How to Increase Guest Traffic to Your Restaurant

The restaurant industry experienced a huge hit during the pandemic. Sales growth continues to fluctuate as deep staffing shortages continue to plague the industry. Thankfully, Black Box Intelligence’s consumer intelligence insights allow for first-hand insight to...

Restaurant Food and Service Sentiment Improving As Traffic Woes Continue

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™ – March, 2022 Top 5 Restaurant Brands Financial metrics are “same-store” metrics & reported on a 1-year comparison unless otherwise noted  The restaurant industry continues to post growth year over year, but the rate...

Best Practices for Driving Alcohol Sales

The restaurant industry continues to evolve in the post-pandemic world. While this transformation carries many challenges, it also brings a lot of opportunities. Beverages play an essential role for restaurants and are often overlooked from a strategic perspective....

Using Guest Intelligence to Improve Your Restaurant Steps of Service

If you own or run a restaurant, you’re familiar with restaurant steps of service. The steps of service outline the important points in a customer’s time in your establishment, and most often are the game-changers in making sure a customer ends up returning. They are...

Restaurant Goals and KPIs to Track in 2022

The wake of the past few years has left the restaurant industry in a state of transformation.  While mid-2021 revealed what was thought to be a light at the end of the tunnel, persistent labor challenges and skyrocketing costs have forced the majority of restaurants...

Managers Are Part of the Staffing Shortage and Guests Are Noticing

The news is ripe with headlines about the staffing shortage and guests are feeling it when there are not enough employees to run restaurants. Hourly workers are at the center of this conversation, but restaurants are also struggling with management...

Increased Menu Prices Deter Guests As Rapid Check Growth Continues

Restaurant Guest Satisfaction Snapshot™ – February, 2022 Top 5 Restaurant Brands Financial metrics are “same-store” metrics & reported on a 2-year comparison unless otherwise noted Sales growth was 2.7% in February, an improvement of 3.5 percentage points from...

Restaurant Industry Growth Trends to Know in 2022

It’s been a rocky couple of years for the restaurant industry. While 2021 represented a shift back towards normalcy, we haven’t quite recovered as much as we’d like. If you’re heading into 2022 with cautious optimism, that’s understandable. We’ve put together five of...


Subscribe to the Restaurant Industry Performance Pulse

Our monthly update providing data and insights for the restaurant industry.

Related Blogs