According to a recent survey by Nielsen Research, a whopping 83% of U.S. adult Internet users check online reviews before they order from a restaurant. On the other hand, the proliferation of review sites has made managing a restaurant’s online reputation more important now than ever before. They can either enhance your brand image or diminish it.
Whether it's a QSR, fine dining, or a fast food chain, one thing that all restaurant owners have in common is the fear of getting negative online reviews. It's indeed a nightmare that they have little to no control over. If you’re sailing the same boat and have no idea whether to swim with or against the tides, here are a few tips that will help you deal with negative online restaurant reviews effectively.
Instead of ignoring, delaying, or hiding in your shell, respond to the review within 24 hours and make it public. A timely response to a negative review gives out the impression that you're genuinely concerned about your customers and thereby doing your best to stand up to their expectations. It also prevents the review from escalating and damaging your restaurant's reputation.
Responding promptly also gives you an opportunity to make things right with the customer and rebuild their trust in your restaurant. When responding to negative reviews, it's important to acknowledge the customer's feedback, apologize for their negative experience, and offer a solution to their problem. This shows empathy and helps to validate their concerns.
By responding promptly and professionally to negative online reviews, you can turn a negative experience into a positive one and show your customers that you care about their feedback and are committed to providing excellent service.
When dealing with negative online reviews, it's important to remember that the conversation is public and can be seen by anyone. This means that how you respond to the review can have a significant impact on your restaurant's reputation.
One effective way to handle negative reviews is to take the conversation offline. This involves encouraging the customer to contact you directly through phone or email to discuss their concerns further. By moving the conversation out of the public eye, you can address the customer's concerns more personally and offer a more tailored solution.
When you ask the customer to contact you directly, be sure to provide them with a specific point of contacts such as an email address or phone number. In your response to the review, you can say something like, "We're sorry to hear about your negative experience. Please contact us directly at [email/phone number] so we can discuss this further and make it right.
Here’s an example of how to respond to a negative online review:
“This is Robert Plato, owner of R&T Kitchen, I’m sorry you feel that way. We always try our best to make all our guests happy and satisfied. Please call or email me at (XXXX) so I can resolve this issue to your satisfaction.”
Once the conversation has moved offline, you can offer a more personalized solution that addresses the customer's concerns. This could be anything from a refund or voucher to an invitation to come back to the restaurant and try the food again. By taking the conversation offline, you can show the customer that you are taking their concerns seriously and are committed to providing excellent service.
Going the extra mile might prompt the customer to post a retraction.
By using negative reviews as an opportunity to learn and improve, you can identify areas of your restaurant that may need improvement and make changes to better serve your customers. When customers see that you are actively working to improve your restaurant based on their feedback, they may be more likely to return and recommend your restaurant to others.
Here are some steps you can take to learn from negative reviews and use them to improve your restaurant:
Read and analyze the reviews: Take the time to read each negative review carefully and identify the specific issues that customers are having. Look for patterns or common themes that may indicate larger issues within your restaurant.
Take action: Once you've identified the areas that need improvement, take action to address them. This could involve anything from changing your menu or recipes to training your staff on better customer service. Make sure to communicate the changes to your staff and customers so that everyone is aware of the improvements you're making.
Monitor progress: After you've made changes, monitor the feedback you receive from customers to see if the changes are having a positive impact. Continue to analyze reviews and make adjustments as needed.
Follow up with customers: If you've made changes based on a customer's feedback, follow up with them to let them know. This can show customers that you take their feedback seriously and are committed to providing excellent service.
People on the internet are unpredictable. When they are unhappy, they can jeopardize your brand reputation with their abominable views and opinions. While ease of communication has helped connect brands with their target audience, it’s also a roadblock if you get stuck on the wrong side of the game of reviews. Unfortunately, negative online reviews about your restaurant can hurt your bottom line if not taken seriously.
Sometimes a bad review can seem like a slap in the face. If you see a review that is too abhorrent and odious, then don’t be afraid to contact the site administrator to put forward your request to remove the review.
Let's face it, bad reviews happen! Everyone has bad days at work. Use negative online reviews as an opportunity to turn your customers' bad experiences into good ones. Most of all, consider them as free market research.