Short of biting back, how can you respond in order to make sure that your reputation isn’t hurt by a bad restaurant review?
A Menu of Options for Responding to a Bad Restaurant Review
Did someone post a bad restaurant review about your business? Find out how to repair the damage, salvage customer relationships and recover after someone posts a negative review about your restaurant online.
It’s no fun to discover that a consumer has posted a negative review about your restaurant on social networks or a public review site. Few in the restaurant industry missed the social media storm that hit “Kitchen Nightmares” restaurant reality show featuring the owners of Scottsdale, AZ’s Amy’s Baking Company. Not only did the show’s host, Gordon Ramsay, actually give up on his attempt to help the company, things seemed only to go from bad to worse, including an onslaught of scathing social media posts on the company page and across the internet.
While it’s unlikely that your restaurant would ever find itself in a media meltdown, it points to the importance of having a plan for how you will deal with a bad restaurant review, customer complaints and social media slights that could damage the reputation of your restaurant and impact profitability. Your plan should also ensure PR training for employees, who could find themselves in the position of a spokesman needing to defend the reputation of your restaurant.
Who, What, When, Where and Why – Tips for Responding to a Bad Restaurant Review
Who Should Respond to a Bad Restaurant Review
While the first choice for “who” should be the one to respond to a negative review, social media post or customer complaint might be the restaurant owner or a designated marketing or public relations officer, it’s also important that a back-up be identified in the case that an individual is traveling, ill or unable to respond in a timely manner for some other reason.
What Will Merit a Response
Remember that it’s impossible to please everyone all of the time. Few (if any) restaurants receive 5-star ratings from every patron. A few negative comments here and there are not likely to damage the reputation of your restaurant or deter patronage provided there are several positive reviews and good ratings to offset them.
Every negative comment will not merit a response. Your media policy should include a general outline of the type of bad reviews or negative social media updates that will (or may not) require a response. In general, you only need to respond to bad reviews or negative ratings you feel have real potential to hurt your business in some way.
When to Respond to a Bad Restaurant Review
Depending on the topic of a bad review, you may want to delay your response until you have a chance to take other actions; such as:
- investigating the complaint
- contacting the individual personally
- deciding what type of amends you want to offer
- exploring the options available to you depending on the policies of the platform where the review was left (Yelp, CitySearch, Facebook, Google+, etc.)
When you do respond, make every effort to keep the conversation positive. Focus on the merits of your restaurant, staff, menu and other positives. Offer amends that can lead to a positive outcome for all parties. Avoid making comments that could be construed as personal insults or insinuations.
Keeping to the high road when you respond could be enough to protect the reputation of your restaurant from potential damage. Likewise, it can even bring in new business and motivate loyal customers to come back more often, not only offsetting any potential lost profits but actually increasing them.
Where to Respond
Ideally, you would be able to leave a response directly at the source. For instance, if the poor review came in the form of a social status update, the best place to respond might be as a direct reply or private message. If it’s not possible to leave a direct reply, you may need to post an open response on your own social media pages, blog, website or even include a response in your email newsletter.
Why a Bad Restaurant Review Can Be a Good Thing
Bad reviews can produce positive outcomes and these could come in many different forms, such as:
- Discovering inadequacies in the customer experience
- Identifying the need for staff training in general, or in specific areas
- Fixing sub-par menu items or recipes
- Providing opportunities to make amends with an unhappy customer
- Giving you a chance to garner the attention of local press and build brand awareness
- Laying the groundwork for better online marketing and reputation management