Tarik Qahawish –founder & CEO of Localyser – was recently interviewed by DubaiEye radio station Business Breakfast morning show during which valuable insights were shared from analyzing over 1 million reviews collected for clients such as Meraas, Shakespeare, Applebee’s, Gourmet Gulf and more. Here’s a summary of the interview.
“Reviews are critical to a restaurant’s brand management” says Tarik.
He also added “if you’re a restaurant that has a lot of locations, you need to be on top of all your online reviews, not only from TripAdvisor but also Zomato, Google, Facebook, alongside delivery review sites such as Talabat, UberEats and Deliveroo”.
“Reviews provide you with a lot of data that you can crunch and get insights from. One negative review can probably set a business back for a couple of weeks in terms of low-sales; so one needs to not only be focused on operations but also on what customers are telling you. It’s important to have a process allows you to respond to all of these reviews on a regular basis!” Tarik said.
The host inquired about the impact a negative review would have on a brand’s reputation or sales, in return Tarik answered “no body is perfect, everybody has a bad day once in a while. That’s okay. If one gets a negative review simply acknowledge it, responds to it, handles it and learn from it then that’s not a big deal. However, if it’s consistent, then that flags a problem”.
Tarik mentioned a study done Harvard Business Review which tracked 400 restaurants in the US and researched their online reviews versus their revenue and found that a one-star increase in their average rating leads to about 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue. The take away is that obtaining higher-than-average ratings definitely leads to more revenue.
When elaborating on what Localyser does, Tarik explained “we’ve found a problem in the market due to many review sites, if you are a restaurant chain that manages ten, twenty, or thirty locations and you have about ten different review sites that you’re monitoring, Localyser aggregates all the reviews into one applications so you can monitor, respond and analyze from. As a result, one does not have to go on a chase after the different platforms, but simply login into Localyser and easily see all the reviews and respond in one place.”
The host also asked about identifying and differentiating legit reviews from spams, Tarik responded “it’s easy to pick out ingenuine reviews, plus, customers are smart enough to realize if a reviewer is being overly emotional or has a beef with the restaurant. However, the first action one needs to do is acknowledging them and take the high road to see if a learning lesson can be taken. This may help reviewers realize that they’re taking it a bit too far.”
Tarik was also spoke about how Localyser classifies deliberate negative reviews from customers who frequently just hammer brands, saying “actually, a lot of review sites have their own policy to ensure there is no spamming. Localyser sees a review that is copy-pasted into different platforms, it immediately picks it out and alerts the client allowing them to file a complaint to the specific platform itself and have the spam-review removed.”
Tarik’s philosophy is that brand managers need to make monitoring and handling online reviews a daily practice, something to be done all the time. If a brand goes out and does a campaign then ask its customers to leave reviews, it would see a spike in online reviews, but some platforms such as Google don’t like that, because they are after something consistent, organic and natural that is tied to their business traffic. Tarik mentioned that at Localyser, there is a tool which allows the brand to share a feedback-request landing page with its customer, it would ask them to rate their experience from 1 to 5-stars and then requests them to share it online; if this is done on a regular basis and the customers are actually putting it up, then naturally the business’ rating will go up.
When asked about plans of growth beyond the F&B sector, Tarik answered “reviews are becoming a part of our lives not only in the restaurant business, therefore, we have leisure and entertainment as part our clients such Roxy Cinemas; we’re also getting into the fitness & wellness and healthcare clinics sectors. The platform is open for everybody who is serious about online reviews, in monitoring and managing them to increase their online ratings to be discovered on Google”.