You take a lot of pride in your operation, your menu, and your people – deservedly so with all the care and hard work you put into making your business a success. Online reviews are now a fundamental part of managing your reputation and building traffic.
You’re going to encounter three basic types of people who will take the time to write a review, here’s who they are and how to handle them:
The Fan: This person had a great experience eating with you and felt compelled to write a review. This is your best possible outcome. Be sure to thank your fans and invite them back when responding. Depending on the circumstances, you might even offer them something like a free t-shirt or an appetizer the next time they’re in – for the real brand advocates.
The Upset Customer: Don’t panic. The key to dealing with negative reviews is to handle it in the same professional manner you use to take care of everything else in your business. The upset customer is the result of a fluke. Mistakes happen; even the best establishment can still have a bit of bad luck.
To deal with this, be professional and be honest. Address the issue in a straightforward manner and ask the customer to contact you off line to discuss the problem and how your restaurant could make it up to them. Handled properly, a negative review is an opportunity to create a positive interaction for an unhappy customer and showcase your commitment to providing a top-notch customer service experience. Handled in this manner, many bad reviewers will often change their review to reflect the service you gave to correct the problem.
Above all, keep cool. The negative consequences of mishandling a bad review can be much worse than a bad review itself.
The Instigator: This person is upset that you don’t serve brunch, even though your menu says you don’t serve brunch. They’re upset about things that are their own fault, or frankly, they’re just looking to stir up trouble. Try to deal with them in the manner of the upset customer. If they persist and become hostile, degrading or insulting you can just block them from commenting and report them as a problem account. This is only a tactic for the people who are determined not to be happy with you no matter what.
The most important element to remember is that your online presence needs to be as real and human as your personal presence in your restaurant. If you treat your customers the same way as if they were seated in your establishment, you will do great!