The report also found that burger-focused chains scored better than pizza chains. McDonald’s (49), Arby’s (48), Wendy’s (39), and Burger King (38) had an average score of 43.5, just below the overall average of 45 for all restaurants. On the pizza side, Pizza Hut (46) outperformed other pizza chains but still ranked lower than top burger chains. Little Caesars (33) and Domino’s (32) came in near the bottom. The average reputation score for pizza chains was 37, which is noticeably lower than the overall average.
A common thread among low-scoring chains was ghosting, where the companies ignored online feedback, reviews or customer questions. Being ignored decreased consumer trust, led to fewer food purchases and weakened customer loyalty. SOCi estimates that ghosting costs chains in the U.S. approximately $14.07 billion in lost value annually.
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“In the digital age where consumers are more empowered and vocal than ever, brands can't afford to ignore online feedback,” said Monica Ho, chief marketing officer at SOCi. “A proactive approach to online reputation management is not just good PR and marketing; it's a business necessity. Addressing customer feedback, both positive and negative, is essential to foster trust, drive engagement, and maintain a competitive edge in the market.”
Ho advised brands to have a response plan in place. Starting at the corporate level, there should be clear rules on how to respond to reviews so that there is consistency in tone and messaging. But that requires establishing the proper infrastructure to respond. This could mean having a person or team in charge of local online reviews, be it a store manager, a social media team, or an agency partner.
Ho also pointed out that AI could be helpful in surfacing reviews based on urgency or sentiment, or generate automated, yet personalized, responses. “These generated responses still require human oversight, but clearly can increase your brand’s review response rate,” Ho said. “This not only enhances customer loyalty but also streamlines the process, making it more efficient.”
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