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Online Reviews Yield Big Gains in Business Intelligence

The hospitality industry can no longer overlook the power of the crowd. As the reach and influence of social media has exploded, the way brands and customers interact with one another has forever changed. Consider this: Facebook boasts some 640 million users worldwide, Twitter receives 95 million Tweets everyday, Yelp has surpassed 50 million monthly unique users, and OpenTable has reached 100 million online restaurant reviews.
Concentrics Restaurants represents some of the industry's most unique and electrifying restaurants, including Atlanta-based Murphy's Restaurant. Restaurant managers often find filtering through reams of online feedback laborious, but knowing what customers are saying online and putting all of the social media activity to work in a productive way is a business imperative. Data is undoubtedly one of the most vital raw materials in today’s information economy, and the payoff of being able to effectively leverage all that data – in terms of innovation, productivity, and business growth – is undeniable.
Looking for a more streamlined approach to evaluate online chatter and to readily spot and follow trends about locations and the industry as a whole, Concentrics Restaurants partnered with newBrandAnalytics, a provider of social business intelligence. In December 2010, Concentrics Restaurants implemented the Social Guest Satisfaction platform to help marketing and operations teams more efficiently and effectively listen to, understand, and take action on customer feedback across social and traditional media. 
Since its launch, restaurant managers have effectively gained business intelligence from social media and other online mentions by harvesting all the content, distilling the pertinent feedback, and generating actionable opportunity. There have already been a number of eye-opening results. Carolyn Prebil, marketing coordinator for Murphy’s Restaurant, reviews the dashboards regularly. Not only has the insight gleaned helped her pinpoint marketing and operational changes to make, but she has also found that sharing the online customer feedback with the staff has driven them to take ownership of the customer experience. 
“I check the newBrandAnaltyics dashboard weekly and send out a summary e-mail every Monday morning to the management team, chef and owner,” Prebil notes. “If there were only a few reviews, I include excerpts from all; if there are more, I look for trends and include quotes from the most descriptive. The managers go over the reviews in line-up with the staff.”
If any negative comments about service are found, they use that feedback to help determine the best ways to improve the customer experience. For instance, some posts described staff members as seemingly tired and ready to go home towards the end of the night. The Murphy’s management team has made a concerted effort to minimize the number of double shifts, so that everyone is fresh. New server training was instituted based upon specific feedback. The positive impact was evident immediately judging from online customer service reviews in which guests noted the improvements.
Online customer feedback is a valuable marketing and operations tool, but it also has an intrinsic value in driving employee motivation and productivity. Prebil has created a "Social Media Shout-out Board” that is displayed in the employee break room at Murphy’s. She posts the positive online comments that mention specific servers and/or bartenders such as, “This was the best $200 I ever spent at a restaurant. Ask for Thaddeus and you will be well taken care of!”
The shout-out board has promoted “friendly competition” among the wait staff as everyone wants to see his or her name mentioned. Seeing the shout-out board before a shift starts is very motivating and reminds servers how important customer service is and how performance and interaction with customers directly impacts the overall guest experience. 
Social Guest Satisfaction has also helped Murphy’s management develop and fine-tune the menu. “For awhile, we had discussed adding more vegetarian items to the menu. Online feedback validated making this change,” says Prebil. “We also noticed that the ‘Shrimp and Grits’ was generating quite a bit of buzz. While the feedback was generally positive, there were a number of comments about the quantity and size of shrimp. So, at the weekly manager meeting, we ordered a Shrimp and Grits, and decided to add an additional shrimp at lunch to make it a better value. After that, the negative comments about that menu item ceased.”
Michaela Anderson Palovick is senior accounts manager at Concentrics Restaurants. Founded in 2002, Concentrics Restaurants represents some of the industry's most unique and electrifying restaurants. These award-winning chef-driven culinary destinations include ONE. midtown kitchen, TWO urban licks, TAP, PARISH Foods & Goods, Murphy's, Lobby at TWELVE, Room at TWELVE and  LUMA on Park.

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