September 15 2014

Loyalty Matchup: Sports Authority v Cabela’s

With Cabela’s customer loyalty score clocking in 9 percentage-points higher than Sports Authority, Cabela’s wins this retail loyalty matchup.

To determine the winner, we drilled into customer comments around the key loyalty drivers: Products and Personnel.

Customer Loyalty Sports Authority v Cabela's

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September 10 2014

5 Questions with Le Pain Quotidien’s Erin Pepper

LPQThe 200-location global French bakery and restaurant, Le Pain Quotidien, takes listening to guests seriously. Director of Guest Relations, Erin Pepper, recently took a seat at our communal table in preparation for the Hospitality Technology cover story, “The Rise of Social Hospitality.” Hear what she had to say about using newBrand for her restaurant chain’s social customer relationship management solution.  (more…)

September 9 2014

Are Foursquare’s Changes Good for Business?

Made popular with on-the-go Millennials excited to score a deal or leave a tip for other city dwellers, Foursquare made checking in at brag worthy locations fun for its users. (Not to mention profitable for the business advertisers hoping to grab more foot traffic.)

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 4.09.32 PMFoursquare recently released a major app update that shipped off its signature check-in feature to a spin-off app called Swarm. While, users confess they miss being crowned “the mayor” of locations and collecting gamified badges from businesses, Foursquare claims these are just growing pains and that its recent relaunch and feature split will ensure both apps’ popularity with more users.

With the new and revised apps getting low ratings in iTunes, let’s dive into the impact these changes have for restaurant marketers and operators.

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September 8 2014

Coffee Controversy: Starbucks v Dunkin’ Donuts

People love their coffee. In fact, specialty coffee sales are increasing 20% year over year and account for nearly 8% of the 18 billion dollar US coffee market. And coffee consumption out paces soft drinks for the majority of Americans, according to the National Coffee Association’s 2014 study.

With coffee consumption up, it leaves us wondering, who’s serving the best coffee? With this question in mind, we focused on the two coffee powerhouses for this week’s loyalty matchup: Starbucks goes head-to-head against Dunkin’ Donuts.

Customer Loyalty Starbucks v Dunkin Donuts - Logo Header

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September 3 2014

6 Ways to Keep Gym Members Coming Back

6-ways-keep-gym-member-loyalty_300x300American adults are working out more than ever. We spend more than $60 billion annually to keep slim—from paying for gym memberships and buying Fitbits, to joining weight-loss programs. An industry founded to fight obesity has turned into a competitive market where trendy pilates and barre studios battle with indoor cycling centers for the same local clientele. With the business of working out getting increasingly more niche and fragmented, the definition of what it means to be “a gym” is evolving past a room full of treadmills.

Entrepreneurs find the low startup costs for urban-centered gyms appealing and according to IBISWorld’s Gym market research report, 36 percent of gym industry establishments are lowering overhead by offering instructors of free classes or cool gym merchandise, instead of a salary.

With consumer preferences shifting, what can fitness centers and spas do to keep their members happy, coming back and recommending? After analyzing thousands of online customer experience reviews for client resorts, gyms and game centers, newBrandAnalytics has uncovered the 6 secrets to cornering the fitness market.

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September 2 2014

Which QSR Makes the Best Fries? Loyalty Matchup: Burger King v Wendy’s

With Burger King’s plans to acquire Tim Horton’s coming out last week, we thought it was appropriate to make this week’s matchup about BK. Burger King is going head-to-head against Wendy’s, another QSR giant.

We looked at food sentiment, limited time offers (LTOs), beverages, and service to round out the loyalty scores this week.

Note: As always, these matchups are created from customer feedback posted on review sites, like Yelp or Google Places, and social networks, like Twitter and Facebook.

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August 25 2014

Pizza Showdown: Papa John’s v Domino’s

I’ve found most people have a favorite pizza place, whether it’s a local pizzeria or a major brand, they have a go-to for carryout.

As you might expect with QSR pizza chains, the main loyalty driver is the menu. How good is the pizza, and how good are the side orders? This week’s loyalty matchup examines what people are saying about Papa John’s and Domino’s. Which gets the most positive chatter online?

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August 25 2014

CMOs, Do You Know What It’s Like Being Your Customer?

As a marketer, it’s your job to draw in customers with exciting promotions, events, and campaigns. You slave to build out the perfect offer, get a massive amount of potential customers interested, and then you hand them over to the operations and customer experience teams. But do you know how service is delivered to your customers and if it matches the promises your campaigns are making? Understanding the customer experience is now about more than just knowing the in-store buying process. In the era of online customer feedback marketers need to truly understand what it means to be a customer in order to flip prospects to customers and maintain customer satisfaction. Fortunately, new technology allows marketers to gain a working knowledge of their customer services department and if good service is delivered. Here are three ways marketers can work more collaboratively with operations, customer service, and customer experience teams to create loyal brand advocates:

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August 22 2014

2 Must Knows From Zoës Kitchen CMO that Will Make You a Restaurant Rockstar

Fast casual is the fastest growing segment of the restaurant industry, and for good reason. Cost-conscience consumers can trade down to receive a quick, casual dining experience without sacrificing the quality of food. And while it would be tough to start up a new quick-serve chain in such an over-saturated segment, the door is wide open in fast casual—just look at the success of Chipotle and Panera. But a few smaller players, like Texas-headquartered Zoës Kitchen with 111 locations, are quickly making a name for themselves with busy moms and the fresh ingredient seekers of the highly-desired Millennial consumer group.

Zoës Kitchen’s secret weapon is listening and acting on insights learned from guest feedback found in web surveys and social media. For the last two years, Zoës has used newBrandAnalytics as their insights dashboard to track consumer chatter and activity at the brand level, regional level and the location level. The partnership with newBrandAnalytics, as well as the scoop on Zoës Kitchen’s IPO where their restaurant chain was valued at $276 million, were hot topics on the Social Restaurant Podcast with Nate Riggs. (more…)

August 18 2014

Loyalty Matchup: Applebee’s vs TGIFridays

Earlier this year, Applebee’s announced they would begin rolling out tabletop tablets across more than 1,800 Applebee’s locations. These tablets make it easier to order favorite items and pay your check at your convenience. Mike Archer, president of Applebee’s, told Forbes, “The device puts control of the restaurant experience in the hands of our guests. Speed of payment is the first thing that guests will notice.”  There will continue to be improvements to customer experience as supporting technology becomes more readily available.

This week the team dove into customer feedback around service for Applebee’s and TGIFridays. How do these two American-fare restaurants compare to each other when it comes to service standards?  (more…)

August 14 2014

Is Your Brand Socially Mature? Part 3

We’ve reached the final stage of Social Media Maturity. In stage one you learned the value of listening and engaging customers on social in order to better understand the voice of your customer. Stage two was about the importance of leveraging social data to define strategy. The final stage of social maturity is when you are operationalizing insights gained from customer feedback. You’ve reached social media maturity when you take real action on an ongoing and sustainable basis from guest feedback, then pushing that information to the right members of your team to improve on a brand and location level. There is no shortage of data that can provide actionable insights. However, finding the data to help you improve operationally if you don’t use social intelligence to search it out is incredibly difficult and inefficient. With industry specific insight and location level information from social data, businesses can make better decisions and improve operationally. This is the best way to show customers you hear them, something that is greatly valued and will attract them to your location. (more…)

August 11 2014

Storage Wars: Extra Space Storage v Public Storage

I don’t ask much from my storage facilities. I want the staff to be friendly, the facility to be clean and rent not to cost an arm and a leg. This is pretty much in line with what social customer feedback points to as well.

This week we’re comparing Extra Space Storage and Public Storage for our loyalty matchup. As a reminder, when we put these together we look only at the comments customers are making on review sites and in social media.
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August 11 2014

Good Times Making Smart Business Moves with newBrandAnalytics

newBrand customer, Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard, a regional chain of quick-service restaurants located primarily in Colorado, provides a menu of high-quality, all natural hamburgers, fresh frozen custard, fresh-cut fries and fresh lemonades. goodtimes_burger

Good Times announced that its same store sales increased 13.7% in July 2014 over the prior year’s increase of 18.4%. This represents a two-year increase of 32.1%. According to President and CEO Boyd Hoback, their multi-layered sales growth is owed to a combination of transaction growth as well as average check and is a testament to recent product innovation, a reinvestment in facilities, strong brand story and first-rate execution by operations. These initiatives are measured and supported by newBrand via customer impressions.

Good Times currently collects, analyzes and manages voice-of-customer feedback for their 36 corporate and franchised restaurants using newBrand’s online reputation software platform. With a focus on understanding the actual customer experience on a location-by-location level, Good Times blends the power of real-time social media feedback from review and social networking sites (such as Twitter, Yelp and Facebook) with customers’ suggestions collected with mobile-friendly online surveys. These surveys are managed by newBrand and are crafted using best practices to collect candid feedback. Other chains that leverage nBA’s Instant product are: (more…)

August 7 2014

Is Your Brand Socially Mature? Part 2

One of the essential parts of creating and running a business is defining a set of goals the company aims to achieve. Strategic decision making, or strategic planning, is crucial for determining the courses of action. Customer feedback gives you the information you need in order make the strategic decisions that will allow your business to meet its goals. This is why the second stage of social media maturity is Strategy. When you begin to leverage qualitative customer feedback to derive strategic direction you’ve elevated from the first stage, Marketing, to the second. Those who are not yet at this maturity stage assume they can just look at star ratings, but this gives you a very limited picture. In fact, 29% of all five-star reviews contain at least one negative insight. If you are not analyzing the verbatims, you are missing insights that show where you are doing well and where you need to improve.

For example, Nando’s Peri Peri USA looks to social to confirm they are meeting core brand mission and value. Nando’s focused on comments that contained themes mentioning great service, knowledgeable employees, or friendliness and link those to the restaurant and the team on a location level basis. Furthermore, these types of comments link back to the mentality they’re trying to instill across the organization. Nando’s positively reinforces the sentiments they wanted to hear through monthly contests where the winning restaurant receives a monetary prize. Nando’s wants to create a culture where staff cares about their scores and hold each other accountable for being friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. They are now using social data to reinforce brand values. (more…)

August 5 2014

Organization’s Attempt at Intimidating Guest Reviewers Backfires

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 10.08.07 AMConsumers trust other people’s opinions more than they trust brand messaging. As word of mouth continues to go gangbusters, reviews will be posted everywhere on everything from where to get the best ice cream to how to find the cleanest hotel bathrooms. People use online feedback to dodge crummy customer experiences.

A few overachieving brands in the retail, restaurant and hotel industries, such as the customers who employ newBrand’s customer engagement platform, got wise early on and started embracing social reviews as a way to diagnose operational issues with their service staff and store facilities. Best practice is to ask guests for online comments, giving the brand the opportunity for recovery if reviews are poor, and attracting new guests if reviews are good.

But it seems recently, some companies have misunderstood the impact of user reviews and have taken a counterintuitive approach to safeguarding their online reputation. Like the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, New York, that has a clause in its reservation policy stating that it fines guests who leave bad online reviews. The clause reads:  (more…)

August 4 2014

Where do Pet Lovers Shop? Loyalty Matchup: Petco vs PetSmart

Are you a Dog person or a Cat person? Most people have a strong affinity for one or the other. Regardless of whether you are a dog lover, cat lover, or have a collection of exotic fish, you have to buy pet supplies somewhere, and the options are endless: Petco, PetSmart, Pet Supplies Plus, Amazon, Costco, Target, the list goes on and on. But chances are you frequent the one with the best selection of products and offers the best pet owner experience.

This loyalty matchup compares two leading pet suppliers: Petco vs PetSmart. When putting together this matchup, we used only the data that’s publically available on social and online review sites. These are excellent places to capture the voice of the customer and gain a deeper understanding of why customers frequent your stores.
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August 1 2014

How to Measure Employee Engagement using Social Listening

Employee Engagement in RestaurantsThe first half of 2014 marked the strongest six-month job growth performance in more than eight years. According to Bruce Grindy, Chief Economist at The National Restaurant Association, restaurants continue to be among the leaders in job growth, “with the industry adding a net 32,800 jobs in June and more than 173,000 jobs during the first six months of the year. Overall, restaurant employment was up 3.1 percent on a year-to-date basis through June 2014, nearly double the 1.7 percent gain in total U.S. employment.”

As a restaurant operator, you’re likely hiring more people to support expansion efforts. But what are you doing to ensure employees are engaged? There are many ways to evaluate employee engagement, and it’s an important element given the direct impact employees have on the guest experience. (more…)

July 31 2014

Is Your Brand Socially Mature? Part 1

A holistic customer experience management and voice of the customer program goes beyond traditional surveys to include social media conversations. Effectively integrating feedback across channels results in operational improvements that earn customer loyalty and affinity. The effectiveness of using data-driven social intelligence depends on a brand’s social media maturity. The more mature the company, the better they are able to leverage social market intelligence. There are three stages of social media maturity: Marketing, Strategy and Operations.

Recently, Sepanta Bagherpour, Director of Marketing at Nando’s Peri-Peri USA, and Joshua Levine, Director of Operations at STARR Restaurants, joined Ashish Gambhir, newBrandAnalytics’ Co-Founder, to discuss the three stages of social media maturity and how it has influenced their success. This three part series will explain each stage and highlight customer success stories. (more…)

July 16 2014

First Watch Engages with Yelp Reviewers

According to a Harvard Business School study, every star on a Yelp review leads to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue for restaurants. Your peers may say Yelp is just a headache, but there’s no denying it’s one of the most useful review source sites, as it affects your online reputation and offers operational insights.

Yelp By the NumbersBut collecting, analyzing and responding to every Yelp review can get overwhelming, especially if you’re a medium to large-sized restaurant chain. For this reason, segment leaders are increasingly turning to time-savings tools such as complete social feedback platforms to prioritize actions at the local level. (more…)

July 16 2014

6 Reasons Why Brands Replaced Mystery Shops With Real Customer Feedback – PART 2

In our last post, we explored three of the top six reasons why companies have reallocated their mystery shopping budget and turned to using the social insights and customer feedback programs. This time we delve deeper into the strategic benefits of analyzing operational intelligence from the unsolicited comments on the Internet.

Let’s first recap what we know: Customer Feedback

Mystery shoppers don’t represent average customers.

Shops don’t allow for natural observations. 

‘Shops’ can be duped with preparation. (more…)

July 15 2014

Wake Up from the Social Analytics Nightmare: Top 5 Suggestions

Recently I read an article about the 20 Reasons Why Social Analytics Is A Nightmare – And What To Do About It. The article’s author, Kohki Yamaguchi, says there remains a mountain of challenges around building a solid social analytics practice. While I don’t disagree with this statement, I know that monitoring online customer feedback with a social intelligence tool can bypass some of the “nightmares” associated with analyzing customer data. (more…)

July 14 2014

7 Ways to Prevent Your Customers from Leaving

LoyaltyAre you noticing the sound of crickets in your business? Where’s all the foot traffic? Are consumers who used to be your biggest fans ignoring your social media posts? We have seven suggestions to stop customers from jumping ship.

1. Improve your customer service. (more…)

July 10 2014

6 Reasons Why Brands Replaced Mystery Shops With Real Customer Feedback – PART 1

Experience is everything in the restaurant business. But how companies receive valuable insight into what their customers think and feel has evolved past the shadowy work of mystery shoppers getting paid to eat a free meal, to using the thousands of real-life customer reviews from social networking and review sites.

Here are six reasons why the best restaurant brands have replaced mystery “shops” with an online reputation management tool. What do they know about the voice of the customer that you don’t? Keep reading to find out.  (more…)

July 3 2014

Challenge the Social Intelligence Status Quo: newBrandAnalytics Announces Pulse

Has anyone ever come into your office asking for details on the latest topic that when viral and you have no idea what they’re talking about? Marketers need advanced social listening software that makes it easier to gather individual comments and conversations, as well as understand trends and react in real-time.

productteamListening to feedback from our clients, we created nBA Pulse to give companies real-time visibility into trending topics and conversations that impact their brand and product perception. There are simply holes in the offerings of first generation social listening tools that we fill. Top companies like David’s Bridal, DICK’s Sporting Goods and Subway have already ditched those brand monitoring platforms to keep a better Pulse on what customers are saying on social. (more…)

June 18 2014

Top 10 Takeaways from the Corporate Social Media Summit

Photo by @oh_rosheen

The Corporate Social Media Summit took place in New York this week. There were numerous amazing speakers that shared real-world, in-the-trenches stories, advice and tactics. Since there was so much to absorb over the course of two days, I wanted to share a few of my takeaways in case you missed it, or want to look back and remember all the things you learned (then maybe forgot)!

Social needs to make sense for the business.

This seems like an obvious takeaway, but still an important one. Many brands rush into social without a plan of attack, without understanding why or what, or because their competitors are doing it. You need to listen to the conversations happening on social—which one might argue there isn’t enough of—but before you jump in to engaging online, what are your business goals? Matthew Eby (@matthewaeby), Vice President, Marketing, Digital Division at The Weather Company, said outright that engagement isn’t a key focus for them. Their main goal is to drive traffic back to their sites because that’s how they make money. Which leads into our next takeaway…

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June 9 2014

NRN Webinar Follow Up: Gauging Your Social Media Maturity Q&A

We recently hosted a webinar, Gauging your Social Media Maturity & Why it Matter$, with Nation’s Restaurant News. Joshua Levine, Director of Operations for STARR Restaurants, and Sepanta Bagherpour, Director of Marketing for Nando’s Peri-Peri USA, joined newBrandAnalytics Co-Founder Ashish Gambhir to discuss the three phases of social media maturity and benefits of listening to online customer feedback.

We’ve compiled all the questions that were asked during the webinar below. If you’d like to watch the webinar, you can access the on-demand webinar at any time here. (more…)

June 3 2014

Beyond Loyalty Programs: How Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton Create Loyalty with Social Media

We’ve told you before about how to use social media to get more guests into your hotel. But, how do you create the loyalty that keeps them coming back? Industry leaders like Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt use social media to make the entire stay more seamless and inspire guests to share their experiences online. These programs foster guest satisfaction as well as help these big brands with online reputation management. And, the best part is, that these tactics aren’t only meant for large hotel chains. Hotels of all sizes can employ the same techniques to foster customer loyalty and create social media success stories. (more…)

May 27 2014

newBrandAnalytics Mentioned in Top Technology Trends in Fast Casual’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers

Every year, Fast Casual online magazine creates a top list of restaurants in the fast casual segment that are making waves and then selects a winner. The winner is chosen based on several categories, including innovation, unit and revenue growth, use of technology and social media, branding and marketing and overall contribution to the industry. The Fast Causal Top 100 also calls out the best restaurant marketing campaigns, menu trends, and, something that is especially close to newBrandAnalytics, technologies. Here are the top three technology trends, according to Fast Casual:

1. Mobile Apps

We previously spoke about the importance of making your restaurant mobile ready. Mobile is becoming a larger part of the restaurant industry, especially the fast casual segment, in terms of mobile ordering and payment. There is nothing that today’s customer wants more than ease and convenience, two things that mobile is providing. Additionally, mobile apps are allowing restaurants to promote specials in the form of rewards to increase loyalty.

2. Social Media Analytics

According to Fast Casual, “tracking customer analytics via social media is helping fast casual operators target their customers.” Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a newBrandAnalytics’ customer, was profiled as a company having great success with social media analytics. Molly Catalano, Director of PR at Five Guys, told Fast Casual that they’re using social media analytics to monitor social media chatter to help the company implement operational changes, specifically the introduction of a “Little Fry” to their menu.

“With newBrandAnalytics’ insight, we could see that the desire for a small fry was spread widely across many markets and demographics, so we decided to test what we call the ‘Little Fry’ in a variety of markets. The test went really well and, as a result, we rolled out the ‘Little Fry’ systemwide. We have actually gotten nothing but positive feedback from our customers.”

3. Using Social and Mobile for Training

Employee training is one of the most critical aspects of owning a successful restaurant. With the introduction of social media and mobile, that task has become easier. You can now use social and mobile to reduce training costs and revise scheduling. Read these 5 steps on how to use social media for employee training.

Technology is quickly changing the way that restaurants function and communicate with their customers. To learn more about how Five Guys Burgers and Fries used newBrandAnalytics to determine the ROI of operational changes, watch this video. Read the entire Fast Casual Top 100 Movers and Shakers here.

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May 20 2014

Highlights from the 2014 National Restaurant Association Show

My team and I were fortunate enough to spend this past weekend in Chicago for the 2014 NRA show. One of my favorite education sessions from the show was “Marketing Strategies for your Restaurant Brand” with three familiar faces from NRA’s Marketing Executive Group (MEG) – Rachel Phillips-Luther of Zoe’s Kitchen, Chris Tomasso of First Watch Restaurants and Stacey Kane from AmRest. The panel discussed strategies and tactics they use to see ROI from social media and customer reviews. For those who may have missed the session, here are the top takeaways:

National Restaurant Association

Don’t Market into Weak Operations

Chris warned restaurant marketers to stop driving traffic to failing locations. Customers make their decision about your brand based on their experience at the first location they try. So why would you promote a probable bad customer experience? Make the locations earn marketing dollars by asking the managers and franchisers to display their customer experience social scores every quarter.

Social is Not a Strategy

Stacey and Rachel were in agreement that social is not a strategy in itself; it’s a conduit for more and better storytelling. Without brand specific content, you may How to Apologize on Social Mediaas well not even use social. Be authentic to your concept’s brand voice with your social engagement, and be as personable as possible with your apologies and offers. newBrandAnalytics has helped customers improve their social media engagement with its How to Apologize eBook, which you can read here.

Engage with Reviewers

Chris puts a lot of emphasis on the complete guest experience. “I want that customer, and any potential customer who happens to read our public comments on social, to think that this is a restaurant who cares.” As such, they have someone dedicated to responding to good and bad customer experience comments on social. Chris also left the group with this extra tip: when responding via your engagement tool, make sure to include relevant key phrases such as “best brunch”, “kid friendly”, or any competitor brand names you’d like to be associated with in the site’s search functionality.

Leverage your Yelp Elite Community Manager

Stacey noted that after AmRest opened a new La Tagliatella location outside of Washington, DC, initial reviews were somewhat negative. They took note of any social media insights that highlighted issues that operations could easily address. From the marketing perspective, they worked with DC’s Yelp Community Manager to coordinate a special make-your-own-pizza event to win back over the Yelp Elite in order to drive new faces into the location. Plus, they began offering free pitchers of sangria to Yelpers. “Yes, it can be annoying, but treat social reviews on Yelp like a game,” said Kane.

Track your social score on a location-by-location level

It’s impossible to understand your restaurant chain’s brand health if you don’t look at your social scores at the location level. According to Rachel, “Your brand is at risk unless you can predict how you’re faring overall with a dashboard tool to determine what your customers are saying about you on social sites such as Yelp and Twitter.” This is one of the ways newBrandAnalytics helps Rachel, and many other restaurant chains, with easy to digest social media analysis at the location level and all the way up to the brand level.

Trial, average check size and frequency

All three panelists reminded the audience that these are the main three ways you can drive more sales, anything else is just a tactic under these strategies. All three can be accomplished if you truly know what your customers demand from you now in their own words, and to know that, you have to be engaging and listening to local customers across social and review sites. Chris said that truly knowing the customer is something that the retail and hospitality industries are doing well because they are utilizing the technology out there.

I’m always happy to learn about how newBrandAnalytics clients are successfully leveraging social media! If you’d like to learn more about how our software can help you see similar success, request a personalized demo today!

May 1 2014

Infographic: The Year of Customer Experience

As social platforms grow and expand in 2014, so does the amount that customers are saying and sharing on social media. 2014 is undeniably the year of the customer experience and this is all supplemented by social media. In this infographic we’ll discuss why now is the time to utilize social intelligence to perfect the customer experience and how you can take action.

 

Customer Service Infographic

April 29 2014

A Sign of the Times: Don’t Get Even with Yelpers, Listen to Them

Negative Yelp ReviewEver seen signs like this outside of a restaurant? A Yelp reviewer leaves an extremely negative review about a dish they tried on a recent visit and the restaurateur tries to laugh off the commentary by making it a punch line.  And while this makes lemonade out of lemons and may get a laugh or two from passersby, it doesn’t take full advantage of the benefits of social intelligence.

On average restaurant operators can find two to five useable insights per online review, including 140-character tweets. It’s rare for a customer-authored review on Yelp not to mention at least one positive or helpful bit of information, even if the overall star rating was low. Reading between the lines of social reviews has helped numerous organizations tweak recipes, service and staffing, menu options, seating arrangements, and even the type of music that’s played, just to name a few examples.

When we see chalkboard signs like this, we wonder how that restaurant handled the engagement with that customer online. Did they write back publicly and apologize for the lackluster experience and seek more information? Did they do nothing, or worse still, did they respond in a sarcastic way?

After examining the social data for more than 150,000 businesses, our research proves people value good service most. More than the food and more than the happy hour specials, it’s the service before, during and after the customer’s experience that drives loyalty.Yelp Reviews

Now is the time to develop a winning strategy for handling negative reviews on social and review sites, because the number of customers sharing information about their experiences is increasing, with a astounding 58 percent of consumers stating they share their experiences online. That same study by Dimensional Research also states that 86 percent of consumers said their buying decisions are influenced by negative online reviews. That means online feedback controls your brand’s success, no matter much you spend on traditional marketing.

Here’s the good news: responding to customers publicly on Yelp in the right way could sway their opinion; in fact 34 percent of customers delete their original negative review after being engaged in a positive way by the brand. Plus, when others see a fair and reasonable response from the management, they’re more likely to try your establishment out. So take this as a sign, and if you need help, download our free How to Apologize eBook here.

April 25 2014

Customers Always Remember Your Name

Not only is the customer always right but the customer always remembers your name and the names of your employees. We’ve all seen Mrs. Twiddles peer over her spectacles at the chest of a friendly and helpful waiter (“Why, thank you, James!”).  And we’ve apologized profusely to Mr. Tightman when his order was incorrect (“Sara was the worst waitress ever!”).  Of course, we’ve also received the emails, the phone calls, and the survey responses, alternatively praising or deriding staff performance. But it’s not just private emails or phone calls anymore. Now, your customers look at those name tags, walk away with their smart phones and start tapping away for all the world to see on social media.  So how can you use the information shared on social media to help motivate your staff?

Here are a few best practices used by leading restaurants: How to fix bad service

1)     Make Social a part of every pre-shift discussion:  Every department head should have access to social intelligence data about their area of responsibility and should share highlights of praise or issues that have surfaced in the last 24 hours from customers.

2)     Run a contest to motivate your staff:  Consider different incentives for your servers, hostesses, and kitchen staff. Encourage staff to greet customers immediately when they enter, make a personal connection, and invite customers to talk about a good experience online.  You can then run a monthly competition that measures the most positive online staff reviews, and recognize the winner accordingly.

3)     Use negative mentions to identify training or scheduling opportunities:  Obviously, when a customer mentions a team member negatively, you’ll need to take corrective action.  However, look for broader trends that may signal a need for better or different training. Alternatively, negative mentions may actually point to poor scheduling and the need to beef up staff and peak periods. Social media analytics will show you all you need to know.

Ironically, however, restauranteurs are often surprised to realize how often their staff members are cited by name in online reviews. We see it every day and now is the time for you to take advantage of that data to improve. How are you motivating your staff based on positive name recognition? We’d love to hear your ideas below.

Also, for those times that the customer does leave a terrible review on social media here is The Complete Guide To Apologizing on Social Media.

April 14 2014

A Cautionary Tale: What Not To Do With Reviews of Your Hotel

No matter if you run 100 locations or just one, hospitality is and always has been a customer-first kind of business. You could have the most luxurious guest rooms and best pool, but if you don’t like listening to customers talk about your hotel on social media…don’t bother hanging up your shingle.

Recently, Tnooz discovered a hotel manager being fired for mocking negative reviews on TripAdvisor. The comments, we not only insulting to the guest, but were completely unhelpful and promised no resolution the to customer’s issue. And, as we told you before in How To Apologize on TripAdvisor, promising a resolution to an issue is one of the only ways to win back a guest’s loyalty. This manager was more focused on defending the property, although he did not do it well, rather than maintaining guest loyalty and mending the relationship. He even went so far as to call the guests with negative complaints “sucker” and “idiot”. Not only is this not constructive, but it makes a bad situation significantly worse.

TripAdvisor ResponseContrary to what this despondent business owner apparently believes, online reviewers are not snarky teenagers or random people with an axe to grind; they’re your customers. Gone are the days when just a few high-tech folks saw negative commentary about your hotel – today, hoteliers have to factor highly-connected, social media savvy, guests in as just part of the overall business landscape. When a purchasing decision can be switched by just one or two negative reviews, businesses have to respond to reviewers 100% of the time, whether they like what they’re saying or not.

And because it’s business, not personal – please learn from the Georgian House Hotel example and keep your personal beliefs out of it, and above all else, keep your calm when replying to guests. Because although guests do tend to embellish to make a point, they’re giving you vital operational information you could be using to make your restaurant a success. You should be thanking them and begging for more reviews!

For more best practices on the best ways to engage with reviews to keep loyal customers, check out our eBook, Social Engagement Best Practices.”

April 7 2014

Get More Guests Into Your Hotel With Social Media

As of April 2013, hotels showed a 14.3% increase in income over previous years. However, these numbers are still not back to post-recession amounts. With the new guest inclination towards using online reviews it is important to make sure you can keep your hotel thriving in this highly competitive atmosphere. There are numerous social media tactics that can draw people into your hotel lickety-split. The first step is to find your target audience in the sea of users. Whenever you use social media you’re facing a massive audience, for example, Facebook already has 1.4 billion worldwide users. Therefore, if you don’t target your message to a certain group it will get lost in the noise and will have little to no impact.

1. Offer Special Discounts

A tried and true method for getting guests to visit your property when business is slow, is to offer discounts that are only redeemable during that time period. Companies like Yelp and TripAdvisor give business owners the opportunity to post deals and gift certificates on their site pages on these social networks. These deals directly target people who show initial interest in your business. These users already were interested in your hotel and now they will be more willing to visit you. Additionally, giving guests a discount when they check in to your location on Foursquare is a great way to lure people in to your location. You can even tailor these deals to specific locations that get less traffic.

2. Pictures, Pictures, PicturesTripAdvisor Promotion

Posts with pictures get four times more engagement than other posts. Promote discounts in the form of an image on Twitter or Facebook to reach a larger audience. Social coupons engage new users while also increasing the amount of reversations and visits to your hotel’s restaurant. Today’s consumers, especially Millennials, are more likely to visit a hotel that a friend had a positive experience with, therefore if someone shares an online coupon on their Facebook timeline or Twitter feed this gives your brand amazing exposure over a large audience. No one is going to scan a direct mail coupon and share that with his or her social circle. Now is the time to move on from that old school tactic.

3. Be The Next Spielberg 

A great way to encourage guests to visit your hotel is to show them how much fun your location actually is. Use photos and fun captions to show special features of your location. Also, when thinking images don’t forget the benefits of video. Today, over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every hour! Show the ease of your check-in process, the comfort of your rooms, the friendliness of your guest services associates, or a guest’s interaction with a bartender or GM with a short video. These videos will demonstrate the ultimate benefits of staying at your property including getting answers to burning questions and that powerful feeling of true human interaction. And if a picture can say a thousand words, just think what a six second Vine or 15-second Instagram video can say after it goes viral. Better yet, you can use the customer-authored comments as insights to better run your operations. It’s a win-win.

Here are some more tips on how to best use Twitter for Business, Facebook for Business, and TripAdvisor for Business (of course!).

March 31 2014

How Hotels Can Inspire More Online Reviews

So you’re sold on the idea that your hotel needs online reviews to attract new customers – excellent, but that’s only half the battle. Now you want to know how you can encourage those customers to post more reviews about your hotel on social media and review sites to draw guests into your property.  Here are four easy ways you can build a deeper connection with your online customer network through positive social engagement.

1. Give Them Something to Talk About

People are already inclined to share outstanding experiences with their friends, especially when it comes to social media. So your number one job as a hotelier is to ensure your guests actually have a great experience, both in your hotel and online when booking or researching. Because being the best is always buzz-worthy.

2. Ask Guests to Share

  • The best way to get more reviews is simply to ask for them, but you could knock them a small incentive for taking it to the web.
  • Don’t keep your Twitter handle a secret and be sure to plug the social pages you participate on, put it on your receipts at check-out, advertise it on your website and in your guest rooms.
  • Make it convenient for reviewers to share compliments on social. Encouraging reminders before or soon after check-out to guarantee they’ll include more descriptive terms in their review, which will catch the eye of potential guests. You can find some other useful tactics here.

3. Take Offline Activities Online

Offer direct incentives to guests for posting reviews. For example, after a guest checks-out send them an email with a coupon and in the body of the email directly ask them to post a review. Additionally, mobile is only increasing in popularity. Have your Twitter handle at the bottom of the receipt handed to a guest by the pool or a link to TripAdvisor on a post check-out email, it is very likely that the customer will leave a review immediately.

4. Keep an Eye Out for Celebs and Influencers

Supercharge your social media connections with real star power by keeping an eye out for celebs that happen to be fans. Playful engagement with personalities after an unprompted tweet or post about your brand will play better in online communities than if you paid them.  And non-celebrities can be more influential than you think, we notice some people tweeting about brands with 25K followers. Many social intelligence tools break down the influence of authors based on the number of followers they have, making these VIPs easier to find.

Tell us your ideas for interacting with fans below. To learn how Dick’s Sporting Goods uses social media intelligence to humanize it’s brand and increase online reviews, click here.

March 27 2014

Why You Want More Reviews on TripAdvisor

People love TripAdvisor. So it’s time your business got on board with tactfully asking for more customer reviews. Reviews good or bad are what consumers are using to make a buying decision and there is no changing that.

TripAdvisor works with Puerto RicoFounded back in 2000, this travel website has become the go-to source of truth for travelers and locals alike. In January, TripAdvisor extended its influence and now promotes popular travel destinations in advertising campaigns starting with Puerto Rico, which they’ve now dubbed the All-Star Island, a nod to positive customer ratings.

Puerto Rico’s tourism board realized that what matters most to tourists when making travel decisions today is hearing other visitors’ comments about their great experiences in Puerto Rico.

The more reviews, more inbound links to your website, and the more noise about you online the better for lead generation. TripAdvisor reviews that tell a personal story are the most valued by potential guests. Getting more reviews is one of the most effective things you can do to enhance your popularity on TripAdvisor. Vacationers trust other vacationers; in fact, a Forrester survey shows that 87% of people looking for hotels are influenced by reviews.

TripAdvisorTripAdvisor has its own destination-specific ranking system called the Popularity Index. While businesses can pay to have additional info included on their page, the Popularity Index is completely organic, with no paid results influencing the weekly outcome. The TripAdvisor Popularity Index takes into account the quantity, quality, and age/date of user-generated content written about your establishment. So, the more positive reviews you get, and the more recent they are, then the higher your overall rating is. It’s a great idea to start tracking your Popularity Index regularly, so you can identify your main issues and work on building buzz around your TripAdvisor page.

Your former guests are eager to share their positive (and negative) experiences. Make sure you utilize TripAdvisor’s tools that help businesses add free widgets to their site and email guests through their reservation system to remind them to write reviews. TripAdvisor suggests that it’s perfectly fine to seek reviews from your customers as long as you don’t offer goods and services in exchange. Your strategy should make it as uncomplicated as possible for guests to write an assessment, so include TripAdvisor links wherever relevant like on business cards, on your other social pages, and don’t forget to include links in thank you emails.

Smart hosts and desk clerks always check to make sure everything was okay during a guest’s departure. If you get a pleasant response back, encourage them to provide a TripAdvisor review when they reach their final destination, or from their mobile device. Tell them it’s like paying it forward since good reviews are probably what attracted them there in the first place.

New to using TripAdvisor for your business? Check out our Get Starting Guide for TripAdvisor.

March 27 2014

How to Ensure Products Live up to Your Brand Promise

It’s been said, “Perception is reality.” This is as true of political candidates as it is of consumer brands and stores.  If everyone online says that your product is good because it’s cheap – when enough people read that sentiment, it becomes true.

Company leaders in the retail, restaurant, health care and hospitality industries count on newBrandAnalytics’ deciphering of social intelligence to inform strategy in several ways. Social intelligence validates if customer’s expectations have been met, and challenges the business’s assumptions about their brand, service, facilities and other operational aspects. Social media commentary also frequently shines a light on unexpected issues, or what Dave Wolfgram, CEO of Black Angus Steakhouse, described as “learning what you didn’t know, you didn’t know.”

To date, much of our social analytics work is for the benefit of large chains like Hyatt, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Olive Garden, Five Guys and Crunch Fitness, but we also work with specific consumer goods brands. According to MediaBistro.com, consumers trust social media recommendations above all else when it comes to the stuff they buy, and where they go. This simple fact has radically changed how marketing budgets are formed, and what interaction channels customer care centers focus on first.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 3.13.57 PMOur approach for collecting customer reviews for consumer goods purchased in-store or online is a little different than providing social intelligence about large retail brands. For example if celeb chef inspired company, like Wolfgang Puck, wanted to monitor reviews posted by customers about a recent dining experience in one of their locations, data sources would include Twitter, Facebook, TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google Places, Urbanspoon, and Foursquare. But if a shopper bought a frozen Spicy Chicken Wolfgang Puck pizza at Walmart, most likely they would post a review on that product’s page on Walmart.com. And although the Walmart website isn’t a traditional social site like Facebook, it is a public customer review that can be read by the entire community of Walmart shoppers.

The quality of Wolfgang Puck’s food products spurs customer reviews that could positively or negatively affect other people’s decisions to buy branded products and/or dine out at one of the locations. It has never been more important to corroborate if your products and locations are actually delivering on your brand promise because that’s how customers’ expectations are set – by what your marketing says. Here’s a real example.

joggerAn earphone manufacturer being sold nationwide touted that because of their ergonomic, sporty design, customers could get great stereo sound without having their ear buds fall out while being active. The social scores of these earphones were compared to similar brands in several key attribute categories like sound, bass, fit, cord and microphone. After analyzing hundreds of reviews, the brand ranked dead last in the categories of sound quality and fit – which was essentially their brand promise!

More than 506 insights (or 6% of all product insights) negatively mentioned the likelihood of the earphones falling out. Further analysis showed that the brand performed better against competition when it came to appearance, especially the model targeted specifically to women runners.

This knowledge persuaded the product team to reengineer the ear buds to account for the user’s slippery sweat while engaging in sports, and the marketing team launched a new campaign to leverage the sleek appearance of the product with female reviewers.

How do you know if your products and customer experience are living up to everything you promised? Click here to read an MediaPost article about how CMOs and COOs can work together to make sure their teams are coordinating efforts for more engaged, satisfied and loyal customers.

March 27 2014

How To Write The Perfect Apology Tweet

We have already given you the basics for how to apologize on Twitter, but now it’s time to learn how to write the perfect apology in 140 characters. When you’re apologizing on Twitter you want to genuinely speak to the original complainant, but you also want other followers to see that you took the time to apologize. Therefore, you must think of two things that really count the most when tweeting: Maximum readability, Maximum retweetability. Apologizing on Twitter

1. Get Eyes On It

When writing an apology tweet one of the most important aspects is making sure that as large of an audience can see it as possible. If you want your entire Twitter audience to see your tweet, do not start a tweet with a username. Instead, write a few words before the username. Here is an example:

We are sorry you had a bad experience @customer.

With this, you ensured that your entire Twitter audience can see that you’ve taken the time to apologize to a customer who had a negative experience, which reflects well for your brand. Also, now you have 92 characters left to use to finish up your apology.

2. Promise a Resolution

As we’ve said before, you can’t just say you’re sorry. You actually need to demonstrate that you’re going to take action to resolve the problem brought up by your customer. Some phrases that are short but get you far with customers could be the following:

We’re fixing this problem and want to offer you a gift upon your return!

Let us make it up to you! We’re going to get to work.

We’re sharing your feedback with the appropriate team member.

All of these statements tell your customer that you’re actively working to resolve their issue while also asking them to visit your business again. They’re short, sweet, and have active verbs. Additionally, all these additions leave you plenty of space for step three…

3. Leave Contact Info 

Finally, you want your customer to feel like they’re speaking with a real person, not just a random Twitterbot. Based on which department is responsible for dealing with this issue, give them contact info:

Email us at marketing@bizmail.com

Something this short and sweet ensures that you don’t reach your Twitter limit but also personalizes your apology. Furthermore, instead of offering contact info, you can simply thank the customer.

We appreciate your feedback! 

Or ask them to send you a direct message with their contact information so you can have a team member reach out personally.

We’d like to hear more, DM us your email. 

We want to show our progress! DM us your contact info.

Remember, for them to send you a direct message you need to follow each other. If you’re going to use this tactic, make sure you follow your customer on Twitter.

There are many ways to write the perfect Twitter apology. However, you want to make sure you sound genuine and that you actually take action. The goal of a Twitter apology is to make the customer return. If they return and see the issue persists, you will have lost a customer for good and potentially further damage your online reputation.

We know Twitter can be tricky. Download this Twitter Business Guide to get 5 easy steps to make Twitter work best for your business.

March 24 2014

Use Social Media To Improve Your Hotel’s Layout

Have you ever wondered why more people don’t visit your hotel? You know you provide an amazing experience for business and holiday travelers alike. Well, in this era of highly convenient hotel reservations and easily accessible reviews you need to give guests a reason to come visit you. And a good reason can be a great layout. However, determining what the guest wants in a lobby and room layout isn’t always easy. Thankfully with social media you can easily find out. Here are three ways social media intelligence can prevent death by boredom when it comes to hotel layout.

1. Understand The Locals

Different  guests have distinct desires and loyalty drivers. Look to your social media data to determine how guests feel when they walk into your hotel. With this data you’ll be able to see if you need to cater to business travelers or vacationers. Remember, a turning point in making your hotel successful is making people feel comfortable as they walk around. Kimpton Hotels is particularly successful with decorating well based on who their audience is at different properties. For properties that have more business travelers, they promote their free wifi more visibly. In contrast, for their hotels that are focused on vacationers, they make the hotel reflect the city that it is located in with custom decorations. Guests have distinct personalities. Keep in mind business travelers likely will not enjoy the same layout as vacationers.

Best hotel layout

2. Reorganize For Guest Preferences

The last thing any hotelier wants is for a guest to have a hard time finding the restaurant or the pool or hating the layout of their room. Social media intelligence can show you if guests feel like items are placed inconveniently or if signage leading guests around the hotel is unclear. With social media intelligence you can reorganize the location of your staff to provide the best customer service possible. A newBrandAnalytics customer found that when it offered guests wine in the evening it was difficult for guests to enjoy the drinks because of the crowded lobby. After reading the social feedback, this company shifted around its furniture, which significantly increased the positive sentiment during the evenings.

3. Ask For the Feedback

70% of people trust online reviews and people view up to 11 review sites before booking a hotel. Cash in on this and directly ask guests to leave social reviews about your layout or decoration with a certain hashtag. If you ask for reviews while they’re in the hotel with notes on a receipt, a comment card in a guest room, or at check-out, it’s more likely that they’ll actually do it. Consider asking for reviews when you’re mentioning your hotel’s WiFi at check-in to keep it top of mind.

When deciding how to organize your hotel, it is crucial to recognize that different guests have distinct loyalty drivers. Social media intelligence that can be provided on a location specific basis is invaluable in this type of situation. To see how newBrandAnalytics’ customers have benefited from our location specific data, read these case studies.

March 20 2014

Increase The Value of Your Loyalty Program with Mobile

Your loyalty program is an important asset when it comes to improving the customer experience. Not only do these programs make your customer feel important but they also make the buying and reservation process easier. And, now that there is no longer a linear purchase process, loyalty programs can inspire your customers to take certain actions. However, if your loyalty program does not accommodate new technologies, particularly mobile, you are missing out on a great opportunity to improve the customer experience and increase revenue.

The first step is to get customer enrolled in your loyalty programs. Companies like Sephora have had great success using QR Codes to get customers enrolled in loyalty programs. Another great tactic is to have designated signage through out the store asking customers to send a text to a designated number with their impression of your business to receive a special offer. Both of these tactics give you the customer’s mobile information so that you can send them targeted messages to get them to download your mobile app or enroll in your email loyalty program. Also, with this information, you can encourage them to link their phone number to their loyalty card. Then you can send them information on their monthly point balance or special deals for the month to encourage them to shop with you or come in to enjoy a new promotional item.

Sweetgreen Mobile LoyaltyOnce your customer enrolls in a loyalty program with their cell phone or downloads a mobile app, the options to improve the customer experience are infinite. With the integration of mobile into your loyalty program, you can be more responsive to your customers needs. Now customers can text customer service directly and your customer service representative can see a history of the person they’re speaking with in order to personalize the experience. Or, when you send a customer an update about their rewards points, they can immediately see product availability with a mobile app and easily order items directly from you or easily make a reservation to visit your business. Most importantly, mobile functionality provides an “always on” customer experience so your customers can interact with your business at any hour of any day. Sweetgreen, DC’s destination for healthy foods, has had success with their mobile loyalty app. Users can track the reward points earned every time they buy something in-store or online.

Finally, you can use mobile loyalty programs to increase revenue. When a customer steps into your location and opens their app, you can use that information to send them targeted promotions. A study of retailers shows that when a customer is in-store and they are sent a targeted notification, they buy three times more than they would otherwise. This is a statistic that all industries can take advantage of by sending texts for new menu items or for special room rates during the holiday season. Now you have the ability to track their interaction with your store over a long period of time and learn their interests and what influences their buying process. With mobile you can really learn who your customer is and target them appropriately. Especially when 4 out of 5 smart-phone users will use mobile to make a restaurant or hotel reservation or to purchase an item.

It is worth noting that improving the customer experience takes more than just a great loyalty program. Statistics show that customers are consistently disappointed by the quality of service they receive across all industries. Here is how to turn your associates or servers from moron to Mensa when it comes to the customer experience.