The internet is an amazing tool, wouldn’t you agree?
It gives your business the opportunity to reach out to millions of prospective customers that you’d normally not be able to reach. It provides platforms for customers to come in contact with products/services, purchase, and review them.
And that last part is where it can get really good or really scary for businesses.
Negative reviews are never a good sight to business owners and most will do anything to prevent having one.
This is no less true for restaurants. And it could be worse for them than any other type of business. This is because negative reviews are propagated at the speed of light and the restaurant business is a fickle one.
For this reason, it is crucial that restaurant owners do all in their power to maintain their online integrity by making sure negative reviews are addressed properly, or completely avoided (as if they can).
5 steps to handle negative reviews
Let’s face it, no brand is without flaws, and none can go a full year without offending a customer. A full year? Nah, make that a month.
So, it is important that restaurant owners come to terms with this reality and step up to the challenge of handling negative reviews. Getting a negative review is not the worst thing that can happen to your business, even though it feels that way.
Two things are required to handle a negative review; the right attitude and the following simple steps:
Attend to it, fast
A negative review is like a wound.
And because wounds hurt, the normal reaction is to isolate it, to prevent you or anyone from touching it. But we all know not attending to a wound can cause it to fester and consequently lead to the loss of the limb (ouch).
In much the same way, leaving a negative review unaddressed can cause it to ‘fester’, leading to the loss of new customers, staff morale, and eventually brand reputation.
It hurts, especially when you put in your best to please your customers, but that’s the reality we live in. Regardless of how you feel, the best thing to do is attend to it. Take advantage of the scenario to apologize to the customer and assure them that the problem is being handled.
You could even incentivize the customer (but do not make a promise you can’t keep). This way people will see that you truly prioritize customer satisfaction.
It’s one thing to attend to a negative review; it’s another thing to attend to it quickly as soon as it happens. Addressing a scathing review days or weeks after is a terrible thing as the damage may already have been done and the customer may have moved on to your competition.
Here’s a web tool that notifies you as soon as you get a negative review posted on any platform you use.
It’s nothing personal, it’s just business
This popular line from action – mostly the mafia kind – applies to addressing negative reviews.
When people are peeved, they’d normally use words that are designed to convey hurt.
This is because they want you to feel how they feel. And this can cause a person with little emotional intelligence to infer that the review is directed at their person.
This reaction is totally expected, it shows you care about your business.
However, you must understand that it’s not personal. Don’t put your entire business on hold for the sake of one review. Just take it as one of those things that happen in life and move on.
Resist the urge to respond angrily
There are five stages of grief and when things go wrong, we all go through each of these stages.
When you come across the poor review, the first thing you might do is deny it and tell yourself how wrong the customer is and how right you are. The next thing you might be tempted do is to respond in anger (which is the second stage) to justify your stance.
You must resist the urge to do this.
Remember that the conversation will remain in public view for a long time to come and could negatively impact the way new customers see you.
Therefore, a hot verbal exchange online will not look good for your brand.
Keep A Level-Head While Handling The Irate Customer
Before you sit in front of your computer to tackle the poor review, be sure that your emotions (and ego) are in check.
Begin your reply with a form of apology and do your best to pacify the customer.
Try not to sound defensive as this will only cause the matter to escalate. Let the customer see that you are willing to come up with a solution and to make it up to them.
Another important thing to do is to thank the customer for his/her honest feedback (even if it wasn’t) and assure them that the incident will not happen again. You could win an angry customer back just by doing this.
Follow it up in private
After apologizing, make effort to contact the customer privately.
Some issues might be too embarrassing to discuss in public and some customers may not want to open up in full view of others. Making a move to contact the client privately demonstrates that you’re committed to making things right.
Ensure that you inform the customer in public that you intend to contact them directly. This will give the impression that you really care about your customers.
Keep a Watchful Eye Out For Negative Reviews
For every star you get in a rating, you revenue increases by a significant lot.
With this in mind, it is important to take your reviews very seriously. Keeping a watchful eye out for negative reviews may sound a bit off, but it is important for one reason. It can help you discover a regular pattern that you may not notice otherwise.
Customers may complain about a particular problem or set of problems they encounter at your restaurant. This way, you know exactly what to fix or change about your brand practices.
This will help you prevent poor reviews and loss of customers later in the future.
As an extra measure, consider;
- Creating a platform customized specifically for receiving customer complaints; or better yet, get yourself a web tool that alerts you immediately a customer leaves a review.
- Never leave a complaint unanswered for too long. Respond to them as they come in. Employ someone to do this if you don’t have the time to respond quickly.
- Ask your unsatisfied customers to give you a chance to make it up to them.
As long as the digital world exists, there will always be negative reviews. You need to come to terms with that rather than fight it. Accepting it helps you to better prepare yourself to handle it the right way. And when done right, you could even turn an unsatisfied customer to a die-hard brand evangelist.
Get more positive online reviews
Handling negative reviews is one thing, but boosting positive online reviews is just as important. They boost your online reputation in a positive way. Having a lot of positive online reviews and a negative review once in a while, is actually a good thing.
Imagine having a 5/5 score in every single review. People who read this will most likely think they are too good to be true or even influenced. The negative reviews will make all the reviews together more credible and reliable.
We understand that this is material for a dedicated article. Therefor we wrote one: 4 simple ways to get positive online reviews. There’s also a handy tool that can be used (automatically) to boost your online reviews. This tool will analyse every customer review and detect the sentiment behind the text.
Check it out here.POSTED ON December 11, 2020