Diner Reviews: Do Restaurant Review Websites Provide Accurate Results?


“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

“On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” So goes a famous New Yorker cartoon from the early days of the information age, but it’s as true today as it was then. The cartoon reflects the fact that the internet is totally anonymous – no one knows who exactly is posting things to the internet. This means there’s no accountability. Anyone can say anything with no fear of reprisal or expectation they’ll have to stand by their word. And there’s another phrase that I’d like to coin right now: “Dogs don’t eat in restaurants.”

This is the fundamental problem for any restaurant owner who’s looking to get diner feedback. The internet seems like a no-brainer solution for finding out about diner experiences. Sites like Yelp are already set up with comments from tens of thousands of diners rating nearly every restaurant in the country, meaning that getting feedback about your restaurant is totally free and as easy as opening a web browser. Now, it’s not likely that Yelp reviewers are actual dogs – but who knows who they are?

The answer is, there’s really no way to know. There’s no way to know if they even ate at your restaurant, or if the opinions expressed actually reflect their dining experience. There’s a large contingent of ‘trolls’ on the internet, people who say inflammatory or offensive things just to get a reaction.

Even if the reviews do come from people who actually ate at your restaurant, they may not provide an accurate sampling of your clientele. If you give out evaluations in-house, you can ensure you have random sampling, which means that the people who get evaluations will tend to represent the average population of people who go to your restaurant, in terms of age, gender, social status, and other factors that might make a difference.

In fact, you can bet that one particular group will almost always be over-represented on restaurant review websites: angry people. The people on those sites are the people who have a reason to decide to go on those sites, which generally means they have (if you’ll excuse the food pun) a bone to pick. After all, it takes some amount of effort to log onto a website and write a review. If you have a comment card at the table, or some similar form of in-restaurant review, the amount of effort required is less, so the reviews are going to be more representative.

Ranggo offers a great way to gather this in-house feedback with unprecedented ease and simplicity. We ask the patrons to rate their dishes in addition to other restaurant aspects right on their smartphones and in less than 30 seconds. Patrons will receive an instant e-coupon that stays on their smartphone till they visit again thus increasing existing customer loyalty and retention rates. Ranggo then uses your best rated dishes to market for your restaurant online and in the social networks. Ranggo uses your great food and happy customers to bring you even more customers. Is there a reason not to #RANGGO??

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1 Comment

  1. Peter Basl

    CBC Marketplace investigation uncovers thriving industry behind fake online reviews