Do I need to reply to all my restaurant reviews?
There are a few different schools of thoughts on which strategy a restaurant should employ regarding reviews. Below is how Food Algorithm believes a restaurant should handle online reviews but first, here are other ways some restaurants do it.
1/ Ignore them all
Probably the worst strategy to employ as it is seen as if the restaurant, its managers and ownership do not care whatsoever about their guests (we are not implying that they actually don't care - it just looks that way).
2/ Reply only to the good ones
Although commendable for at least engaging the restaurant's community and guests, it does leave an important aspect of restaurant review management ignored. Replying to a negative review is not only for the person that left the review but also shows everyone else reading that review that you care, that you are taking steps to improving your restaurant (if the review is warranted), allows you to provide context, allows you to provide your version of the incident and allows you to smartly reply to these internet trolls (fake reviewers and people trying to get free meals) for the benefit of the other readers.
3/ Reply only to the bad ones
Again, commendable for at least engaging the restaurant's community and guests, it does leave an important aspect of restaurant review management ignored. Not engaging positive reviews leaves these restaurant guests feeling ignored and why should they feel that way when they are already loyal to your restaurant, you just need to go a little further to make them unofficial brand ambassadors.
4/ Reply sporadically
A great step towards engaging your entire community and restaurant guests but many will still be left feeling ignored and that is ultimately not a good strategy. Even worst, some might be slighted when they see responses and engagement to others but not themselves.
5/ Reply privately only
The typical reason for this strategy is that the restaurant uses the same responses for reviews and does not want guests and the community to see it. The one issue with this strategy is that the community and potential new guests do not see that restaurant guests are replied to and think they are simply not addressed/ignored. It is also quite likely that the restaurant guests that do get direct replies will feel these are "canned" responses.
6/ Reply to all the reviews with same text/same variation of text
This strategy is just lazy and counter productive for obvious reasons.
Our reco: Reply to each review like it was the only one that mattered
Food Algorithm believes that all restaurants should reply to each review thoughtfully, with humor, context, gratitude and respect at least once a week (3x a week preferred). This will make all guests and community members feel important, feel like their opinion is considered and their concerns were addressed. It will help grow the restaurant's community and increase brand ambassadors as well as repeat business. As for "fake" reviews and "trolls", Food Algorithm advises to reply with humor while clearly indicating to other readers that this is clearly a fake review.