Online review business Feed It Back revealed statistics from analysis of reviews across the pub and bar sector.
It found food quality is now the leading reason for negative feedback in the sector, overtaking speed of service, which now accounts for 17% of negative reviews.
There has also been a rise in complaints around value for money, up from 9% to 12%, which Feed It Back said was reflective of the latest data from Barclaycard that showed overall consumer confidence remains low as they are more wary about spending with the increased uncertainty in the run-up to Brexit.
Almost a quarter (21%) of negative reviews in September 2019 related to wait times – and negative feedback around speed of service fell by four percentage points since February, now accounting for 17% of all negative reviews in the sector.
Feed It Back CEO Carlo Platia said: “It’s really interesting to see such a dramatic spike in consumer expectations of the food offering in pubs and bars, particularly in such a short space of time.
“This increase can be partly attributed to the fantastic range of choice in the UK eating-out market. The data also shows value has become a key purchasing driver for customers.
“With profit margin pressures increasing and consumer confidence waning, it is incredibly important for restaurant operators not to cross the fine line between balancing margins and creating memorable, good-value, guest experiences.
“With ever-evolving consumer demands, it is imperative that operators are doing all in their power to adapt and make the necessary tweaks to their offer. Technology, data and insight allows them to do this accordingly.”
Meanwhile, pubs should ensure they reply to all reviews they receive, regardless of whether they are positive or negative, one expert has told The Morning Advertiser.
Ian Shapiro, director of review expert business Pramaze Reputation Management, outlined exactly how and why operators should engage with customers who leave feedback.
He said: “Every review needs to be responded to, whether good, bad or indifferent. With the negative ones, you should state the facts, stay professional and try to take it offline.
“Give them a way to contact you personally by phone or email and get them to ask for the manager by name, if possible.
“The last thing you want is a rant from both sides. If you act professionally, customers will see that.”