As 2024 unfolds, businesses in the F&B and hospitality industries are bracing for a year of muted economic growth and changing consumer spending habits. With real GDP growth expected to slow down to a mere 0.7%, and consumer spending on a more subdued trajectory, the focus has shifted towards customer retention as a key strategy for weathering these challenging times.
In this exclusive interview with Pang Sern Yong, Co-Founder of ReviewNeko and Linkedin Top Voice for Customer Service Management, we delve into the evolving dynamics of customer reviews and engagement, and how technology is shaping new pathways for businesses to thrive.
TechBullion (TB): With the economic outlook for 2024 indicating slower growth and changing consumer spending patterns, how do you see this impacting the F&B and hospitality sectors?
Pang: “The forecast for 2024 presents both challenges and opportunities. While we anticipate a deceleration in overall spending, it’s important to note that consumers are becoming more selective and value-driven in their choices. In the F&B and hospitality sectors, this means businesses must focus more than ever on customer satisfaction and retention. In such times, the ability to understand and respond to customer needs becomes crucial.”
TechBullion (TB): Given the significant influence of customer reviews, particularly in the post-COVID-19 era, how should businesses adapt their strategies?
Pang: “The pandemic has fundamentally altered consumer behavior, with a marked shift towards online reviews and e-commerce. This trend is here to stay, and businesses need to adapt by paying closer attention to online customer feedback. Reviews are no longer just a gauge of customer satisfaction; they’re a powerful tool for building trust and loyalty. Businesses must learn to engage actively with these reviews to stay relevant and competitive.”
TechBullion (TB): Online reviews have been shown to significantly influence consumer decisions. What insights can you share about this trend, particularly in the F&B and hospitality industries?
Pang: “Indeed, online reviews have become a critical factor in consumer decision-making. In the context of the F&B and hospitality sectors, where experiences are central, reviews provide invaluable insights into what customers truly value. Studies have shown that higher ratings on platforms like Yelp or Google can significantly boost sales, especially for independent establishments. This highlights the direct impact of customer feedback on business success.”
TechBullion (TB): Can you elaborate on how ReviewNeko’s technology aids businesses streamline their Google reviews management?
Pang: ‘Certainly. At ReviewNeko, we’ve developed a platform that’s not just for monitoring, but for actively managing and engaging with online reviews. By employing advanced natural language processing, we analyse customer feedback to provide businesses with critical insights. This approach is vital for efficiently managing Google reviews, ensuring businesses not only respond to customer feedback but also enhance their customer relationships and brand perception in a highly competitive digital environment.'”
TechBullion (TB): In light of the predicted economic challenges in 2024, how crucial is it for businesses in the F&B and hospitality sectors to engage with customer reviews?
Pang: “In the current economic climate, engaging with customer reviews is more vital than ever. As consumers become more cautious with their spending, their reliance on reviews for making informed decisions increases. A thoughtful response to a review not only shows that a business values customer feedback but also helps in building trust. This trust is fundamental for customer retention, especially when consumers are spending less and evaluating their choices more critically.”
TechBullion (TB): Looking ahead, what trends do you foresee in customer engagement for the F&B and hospitality sectors, and how does ReviewNeko plan to adapt to these changes?
Pang: “The future of customer engagement will be increasingly digital and interactive. We foresee a growing emphasis on personalised experiences, where businesses not only respond to reviews but also proactively engage with customers to understand their preferences and expectations. ReviewNeko is constantly innovating to meet these evolving needs. We’re looking into integrating more advanced analytics and personalisation features into our platform to help businesses not only react to customer feedback but also anticipate it.”