What Would Google Do?: A book by Jeff Jarvis describing the “lessons and laws that have made Google so successful in this new era.” Here’s a summary of what Google might do if they were going to manage your restaurant:
We’re in a new century, and things seem to be in a bit of a mess. The auto industry nearly crumbled, the housing bubble has burst and everyone else is penny pinching just to get by. So how has Google turned into the world’s most reputable company with a nearly $200 billion market cap? Innovation.
Business models of the 20th Century are out of date, and judging by the rapidity of technological advances across the globe, any business model is out of date without a big ol’ pinch of innovation. So, if you feel yourself falling behind, or you just want to get ahead, take a leap and try following some of these 10 ways Google would stir things up and turn your restaurant into an innovation hub for the industry.
1.) Customers are now in Charge
You must learn to appreciate the value of online reviews. For every 1 person writing a review about your restaurant, there are at least 20 others who will see the review. One bad review could lose you 20 potential guests, so get online and respond! Apologize, ask for forgiveness and figure out what you can do to bring them back and ensure their next visit is supreme. Jarvis says, “The more you control, the less you will be trusted; the more you hand over control, the more trust you will earn. That’s the antithesis of how companies and institutions operated pre-internet history. They believed their control engendered our trust.”
2.) Talk to Your Customers
No longer can you form a marketing campaign and assume your audience will trust what you want them to know. As a society, we’ve grown skeptical – it’s so easy to research a product online and look at what others have to say. It’s time to really talk to your customers, let them know who you are and why they should trust you. Blogging is a great way to communicate with your guests. Promote your new menu items, daily specials and events, all while keeping them informed about the latest foodie trends, salmonella threats and hip ways to host dinner parties.
3.) Your Worst Customer is Your Best Friend – and Advertiser
Once in a while you will get a negative review. Don’t push it away or hide from it, and especially don’t call the reviewer stupid. Confront the review kindly, but have a purpose in mind: You want to change this person’s mind about your restaurant. Jarvis suggests that you “find out more about the problem by engaging in conversation. Solve it. Learn from it. Then tell people what you learned.” And do all of this publicly. In the movies we begin to love the main character, yet they have this fatal flaw, leading to a disastrous ending. Building up to the climax of the film, the character realizes that flaw and conquers it. That flaw, which could have been a death sentence, is now exactly what it takes to overcome the primary obstacle of the film. We want to see you succeed, so take this negative review, and really use it, conquer it. Now take it a step further and this disgruntled guest can become not only a regular customer, but play a huge role in your online presence. Instead of writing 20 blog posts about your crappy service, instead of posting a 45 minute long video rant about your under-cooked food that goes viral on YouTube, instead of forming a Facebook hate group all about your restaurant, he can be your messenger, letting the world know how amazing your restaurant is and how well you take care of your customers. The only thing is, you actually have to be amazing and take care of your customers - remember, the Customers are now in Charge.
4.) Create a Community Around Your Restaurant
This one is a bit of a misnomer – You can’t create a community, because you’re not in control anymore, the customer is. However you can create a platform for your guests to create that community for themselves. Launch an unofficial forum for the restaurant and get your best guests to moderate it. Of course you’ll want to take part, but instead of simply answering complaints, get your management involved; respond to compliments with thanks, and ask open-ended questions to get the conversation flowing. Ask what next month’s soup should be, who their favorite server is, what’s the best item on the menu, even ask for recipe suggestions! You’ve already got guests coming through the door, why not inform them of the forum in the footer of the guest check, describing the hot topic of the day?
5.) If You’re not Searchable, You won’t be Found
One third of all adults in the US own a smart-phone, and how are they using them? Looking for YOU – But if you’re not searchable, how will they find you? Google is the easiest place to start, but there are review sites such as Urbanspoon, Yelp, and foursquare where guests can write reviews about you and your restaurant as well. These are great places to search for disgruntled customers and begin to fix your online presence and customer service by engaging in conversation and finding the right solutions. When I’m traveling, whether it’s for business or pleasure, I hop on review apps to look for the best restaurants nearby. Automatically I get a list of the closest restaurants, what percentage of people liked them, what cost bracket they’re in, what type of food they serve, and a bunch of personal reviews letting me know what other travelers and locals truly think about the restaurant.
To read more, head on over to 6 - 10: 10 Ways to Google-ize Your Restaurant
By Jeff Pollock