How to Deal With Bad Online Reviews for Your Restaurant
More Customers from Bad Reviews!
Even if the food in your restaurant is always perfect and your service is top notch, there'll still be the odd customer that will complain on Facebook or Google. It may be that their steak wasn't cooked exactly to their liking, their table wobbled slightly, or the waiter didn't open the door for them on their way out.
Whether they have a genuine issue or not though, many restaurants get frustrated and sometimes very defensive when they see anything other than a perfect 5 star review online.
I once saw a local restaurant owner having what can only be described as a heated argument on their Facebook page with a customer who had left them a bad review. The online fracas continued for days with members of the general public becoming involved too as word of the argument spread online. I hate to think how much damage it did to the reputation of the business.
I'm sure you can see that responding in this way to a less than glowing review can be harmful to your business, but if instead, you can respond to any criticism in a friendly, constructive way, then it can be a powerful way to actually boost your online reputation!
So firstly, how do you get to know if any bad reviews are posted for your restaurant?
You may well keep an eye on your Facebook page, Google reviews, Tripadvisor etc, for any new reviews but you can also get Google to tell you when any mention is made of you online by using Google Alerts.
Simply set up an alert for your business name and then anytime it is mentioned anywhere online, Google will send you an email to let you know about it. The sooner you know about any less than perfect reviews, the better, and so Google Alerts is a great (and free) way to achieve this.
Hopefully, all of your reviews will be excellent, but when you do see that a new review has been posted, how should you respond?
If it's a good review...
I'd recommend that you reply to the reviewer and thank them for their lovely review. Maybe also comment on something that they mention. "We're so pleased that you enjoyed our steak pie - it really has proved to be a favourite of many customers". This then helps to emphasise the good points so that more people will spot them. Thanking the reviewer also makes them feel good for leaving the review and makes them like you even more.
If it's a bad review...
It very much depends on the individual complaint, but being overly defensive rarely pays off. Rather than just considering the person who has left the review, consider your reply as being an advert for your restaurant that will potentially be seen by hundreds of people.
Even if you have to appear to eat a little humble pie, replying in a friendly and considerate way will massively boost your reputation over time.
Another good approach is something like this... "I was unaware that the issue you mentioned occurred, but I will look into it immediately to ensure that the situation doesn't arise again". So you've not actually admitted that anything was wrong, but have just said you'll investigate.
You may even wish to correct the situation by offering the complainer a free meal, drink or a discount on their next visit to both tempt them back again and let the general public see how much you care about your customers.
The main takeaway with all of these approaches is that you need to consider all of the people that will be seeing your reply, maybe over months or even years, and think about how it will make them feel about your restaurant.
Finally, if you already have bad reviews and a low star rating, what can you do about it?
One method is to simply ask your satisfied customers to leave a review for you. Many will forget or never get round to it, but some will do exactly what you ask and go home and leave a great review for you on Google, Facebook or Tripadvisor.
Alternatively, if you prefer to be more proactive in reducing poor reviews and increasing the number of 5 star reviews, then you may be interested in my Review Boost system. I guarantee that it will increase your 5 star reviews and I'm willing to prove it with a totally free, one month trial.
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