It is hard to please everybody and in the restaurant industry, it is even harder.
Living in the world of internet users, it is inevitable to stumble upon opinions of your customers on the world wide web. In fact, in this day of growing social media platforms, reviews are king. From Facebook to Yelp, customers are sharing their experiences online and future customers are reading them. Good or bad, they are there. For those negative reviews, it is important to not have those go unnoticed. When it comes to responding to those comments that may leave a bad taste in your mouth, here are a few ways to address the problem in a positive way.
Respond, Don’t Delete Negative Reviews
The only way to make worse of the situation is to act like it never happened. Do not delete the comment posted because that makes the commenter feel as if their opinion is worthless. In fact, nearly 80% of consumers expect a response to a critical review and 89% of customers would be willing to change a negative review if they felt the business responded well (source). One way to approach the situation is to show that you care. When responding, don’t fight back. Instead, approach it with understanding. For an example, ask if there is some way that you can offer assistance to improve their next experience. Not only will the commenter see that you care, but also the spectators who are viewing the stream of conversation.
Make Light of the Situation
If you think it’s appropriate for your brand, make light of the situation. For instance, use the review to your advantage and use it for comical marketing. Sometimes broadcasting negative reviews can be just as effective as promoting the positive ones. Doing this gives your brand personality and will surely be memorable as many businesses just focus on promoting optimistic feedback from customers. When calling out someone on their negative comment, be sure to keep the identity of the person anonymous and only use a review that is so outrageous your general audience would find it hard to believe. This will definitely not work with an only slightly negative review.
Show Appreciation for all Reviews
When addressing a negative review, instead of feeling ungrateful for the criticism, feel thankful, for it helps you learn how to improve in the future. Ditch an apology. Instead, provide a “thank you” for them taking time out of their day to educate you on areas of which your business can progress. You can also go the extra mile and ask them to privately reach out to you in order for you to treat them to show your appreciation. Remember to respond within a reasonable time frame. For most consumers, they expect a response if not immediately, within 24-hours. Giving your team guidelines on response time, as well as possible templates for easy answers to FAQ’s that can be personalized is one way to show appreciation for your reviews efficiently.
In addition to responding to the negative reviews, show some love to the positive ones as well. Thank them for choosing your restaurant and state how you are happy to have provided great service and food. Bottom line is, don’t leave any review, good or bad, unnoticed. Use them to educate yourself and your staff, and also, use them to your advantage in any way you can.