Turning social media mentions into best-in-class business insight

March 7, 2012

By Ashish Gambhir

The use of online feedback and social media has a growing rate of adoption within the foodservice industry. Restaurant executives realize that when analyzed in the aggregate, data from many of the key sources they use (for example, online reviews, check in comments, posts, etc.), provide rich insight and create opportunities to improve operations and service.

The unstructured, real time feedback gives restaurants the most comprehensive look at the experience they are delivering to their customers. The negative themes point out areas in need of change and improvement; positive comments highlight what guests most appreciate about their dining experience. Realized for most every location, feedback on the web is the best and fastest growing source of customer experience data.

From online feedback, operators can extract both marketing and operational insights. Understanding the differences between the two will ensure you get the most value from the data you’ve mined.

When you typically think of customer feedback shared online, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is a post about food or service:

  • I walked into this place and no cashiers in sight to take my order.
  • Major flavor disappointment here...
  • Food is alright. Alcohol selection is alright. Everything is horribly overpriced.

Social Marketing Insight is focused more on impressions as opposed to deep insights. For example, one of the above reviews may generate hundreds of impressions depending on the exposure or reach of the author. Accordingly, a restaurant manager could take any one of these posts and look for the number of followers, friends, or even web hits on the page to get a sense of the number of impressions generated. If it has reached a critical mass (where critical mass is defined by you), you can utilize that content as the basis for a new campaign or messaging strategy to overcome or support the comment as needed.

Social Operational Insight, on the other hand, is all about insight that’s inherent in the reviews. Customers are online talking about your restaurant - the food, service, ambiance, etc. Without having to ask, your customers are telling you

  • What you are doing right;
  • What you are doing wrong;
  • How you can improve; and
  • Opportunities to attract more business and improve your reputation.

While the data is out there for you to process, many organizations stay away from social media as a source of operational feedback because of misguided perceptions about the quality of the data. Unfortunately, the really negative reviews and comments from the web have a way of navigating through an organization. As a result, it is commonly considered to be true that people only go online to vent.

The latest research on online reviews, however, indicate that these posts are quite balanced, and if anything, favor toward more positive commentary. This means when you go online and peruse the feedback about your restaurant, chances are that you will see reviews that highlight outstanding service, product quality and an overall positive guest experience.

Given the quality of the data and its window into what guests most (and least) enjoy about their experience with your brand, there is no better place to learn how best to execute than from unstructured guest feedback on the web. Since guests share this information willingly, their feedback typically goes beyond a simple rating of your restaurant, offering deeper insight into the aspects of their visit that are important to them and to their overall satisfaction. By understanding the commentary, you get a closer look at the experience drivers that are most impactful.

Whether positive or negative, each review is rich with insight. Capturing every relevant detail within the mention helps you put structure to the unstructured data set.

With a solid social business intelligence strategy in place, you can turn real-time, free-flowing social media mentions into best-in-class business insight.

The breadth of guest feedback about your restaurant shared online is massive - and its growth is not slowing down. Understanding the differences between the marketing and operational insight inherent in these conversations will help you deliver an experience your customers will frequently enjoy and talk about. 

Ashish Gambhir is co-founder of newBrandAnalytics, a provider of social business intelligence solutions for the restaurant and hospitality industries.


Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Customer Service / Experience , Marketing / Branding / Promotion , Online / Mobile / Social , Operations Management

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