How to Attract Customers With Online Reviews for Restaurants

By: Agnes Teh Stubbs on April 26, 2019

Picture this scenario: You’re visiting a new city with friends and are tasked by your group to find a lunch spot. If you’re anything like the majority of the population, you’ll most likely be looking at online reviews for restaurants.

And there’s no doubt your customers are, too.

According to a study by SurveyMonkey, 78% of consumers say they read online reviews before making a reservation or visiting an establishment in the hospitality and restaurant industry.

So why do online reviews for your restaurant matter? The answer is simple: your potential customers are reading them and it’s having a direct impact on where [94% of U.S diners]( choose to dine.

If it isn’t with you, it’s with a competitor. That’s why it’s crucial to know how you can use online reviews—positive and negative—to attract new customers while retaining existing ones.

In this article we’ll look at actual online reviews for restaurants and how they can help you attract new customers while keeping existing ones.

Share Positive Online Reviews on Social Media

You should integrate customer reviews into your social media strategy. One way you can do so is by turning your best reviews into shareable graphics for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There are free graphic design tools like Canva, Figma and Snappa that you use to create a quotable graphic like the one below:

Example of How to Share a Positive Review on Social Media:


Simply Falafel shares a positive customer review and follows up by thanking the customer for her feedback (Source)

What it gets right: Simply Falafel shares all positive online reviews on a consistently recognizable template. It features an appealing picture of a dish with an excerpt of their review and includes relevant hashtags. The restaurant also gives credit to the reviewer and thanks the customer for leaving a positive review.

Featuring positive online reviews is great for two reasons:

  • More than half of all small-business revenue comes from your regulars. A simple act of appreciation can go a long way in staying on top of a customer’s mind and making them into a repeat customer.

  • Potential customers see what others love about your restaurant and are more likely to want to see what the buzz is all about.

Keep Your Review Sites Up-to-Date

Ever looked up a highly rated restaurant online and worked up an appetite, only to get there and it’s closed? Not a great first impression.

Whether you’re just starting out or have been running your restaurant for years, one thing’s certain: Potential customers will be checking you out through Google, Yelp or other similar review sites. That means it’s important to make sure that all your details (opening hours, address, email, telephone number, website) are up-to-date. Below is an example of how to do it.

Example of How to Keep Your Review Sites Up to Date:


Mei Mei ensures a potential customer has everything it needs to know in order to visit: opening hours, location, contact number and website (Source)

What it does right: Everything a potential customer needs to know about Mei Mei is on one page: its hours, website, contact number and address. Should customers choose to order takeout, they can also do so. And to avoid any confusion, Mei Mei has listed the cost of the delivery fee, a minimum order amount and expected wait time.

Address Negative Reviews Offline

Customers who leave online reviews typically fall into two categories: the ones who had a great experience … and the ones who didn’t.

According to ReviewTrackers, 45% of consumers are more likely to visit a business if the owner responds to negative online reviews. Responding to an unhappy customer gives you an opportunity to address what went wrong and demonstrate to existing and potential customers that their opinion matters.

Unsatisfied customers expect to hear back from businesses. 53% of customers say they expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week. Worryingly, 63% say businesses never responded to their review. Here’s an example of how one restaurant responded to a negative review.

Example of How to Address Negative Reviews Offline:


Farmhouse Chicago apologizes for the experience and asks if the customer can provide further details over private message (Source)

**What it gets right:** Bonni from Farmhouse Chicago apologized for the experience and sought to continue the conversation outside of the review site through private message.

By apologizing, emphasizing that it takes guest feedback seriously and then reaching out to address the issue personally, Farmhouse Chicago is demonstrating its commitment to creating a great dining experience for existing and potential customers.

Ask for Another Chance to Make It Right

Think of the last time you ordered takeout and it didn’t arrive the way you’d specified—it’s always the worst.

The best way for a restaurant to redeem itself there is to take your negative experience seriously and go one step further to make it right. Consider the example below.

Example of How to Ask for Another Chance to Make it Right:


Boloco apologizes and offers an email contact to make it right the next time around

**What it gets right:** Boloco uses negative reviews as a feedback tool to improve and interact with their customers. In the case above, Boloco apologizes for the quality of its food and then asks the customer to get in touch in order for a chance to “make it up.” The result is a “like” from the customer who most likely emailed Matt to receive the best burrito of their life.

Final Takeaways

In summary, there are a few best practices that can really help make the most of online reviews for restaurants with an eye towards attracting more customers. Here they are, recapped:


Don’t forget that beyond online reviews, one of the best ways to get feedback from customers could be staring you right in the face—your restaurant POS.

Our expert software advisors are available for a free consultation at (844) 687-6771: They’ll be able to direct you to POS systems that can give you the ability to get immediate feedback from your guests at checkout as well as track trends along the way to help you deliver that exceptional customer experience that people will be talking about.