How to Handle Those Negative Restaurant ReviewsLucy Cullen
We’ve all been there… Those pesky reviews on Yelp attacking your food, service, decor or even your “lack of meat options” at a vegetarian restaurant. Follow these simple tips to address them positively and effectively! According to Ohio State University, 60% of restaurants don’t make it past the first year, and 80% of restaurants fail in under 5 years. So making sure you handle these reviews the right way is so important to make sure your restaurant isn’t part of that statistic.
#1: Don’t Reply Right Away
It can be really frustrating when you first read a negative online review. Don’t reply right away, and give yourself a moment to process. Because as satisfying as it may feel, you don’t want to reply with anger.
Read the review a couple times, and take a step back. Return a little bit later to respond once you’ve calmed down and can be more calculated. But don’t wait until weeks later! Always respond to all reviews in a couple days.
#2: Analyze the Issue
If you were not present during the time of this complaint, do your research to figure out what went wrong.
Ask staff who were present what happened and do your best to get a full picture of the story, and if it actually is a real issue.
Knowing every detail of the issue, will allow you to respond in the most thorough empathetic way possible.
#3: Draft an Apology
It doesn’t matter if it was the cook’s fault, the waiter’s fault or the customer’s fault… The complaining customer thinks you were at fault. Draft an apology with understanding and sympathy. Remember, the customer is always right.
Your customer can make or break your restaurant with an online review, and it’s your responsibility to make each person that writes that review feel cared about. And you also want to know that you did everything you could to fix the problem.
First apologize, then explain what you can do for them to fix the problem, and if necessary offer an explanation.
If it was the restaurant’s fault, admit it and thank them for bringing it to your attention. Tell them what you’re going to do to ensure it never happens again.
If it wasn’t your fault, apologize regardless and offer an explanation.
#4: Repeat the Complaint
When drafting your apology, repeat their complaint to show that you were truly listening to their complaint. For example, “Dear Ms. Smith, thank you for bringing this to our attention and letting us know that you had to wait 30 minutes for a table…”
And also highlight anything positive they may have included in their review! That way anyone reading, will also see the positive.
In conclusion, the goal is to turn that unhappy guest into a return customer who is happy about their experience!
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