We’ve all been there. You hear the rumors, you notice the whispers, maybe you’ll even participate in the gossip. But, when it’s about you, how do you respond?
We all want to defend our reputation. We are proud, we care, and we want everyone else to love us too. So, what do you do when this reputation is about your restaurant? When you notice that negative review (that is bound to pop up) on the various review sites that everyone participates in?
After you are done staring at the screen and willing the review to disappear, without success, it’s time to address it. Your handle on your business’s online reputation is key. Here I want to give you some advice for responding to reviews as a restaurant owner:
1. Stay calm and carry on – A common saying and for good reason. Especially as a restaurant, you will receive a bad review on Yelp, UrbanSpoon, etc, and the quicker you realize the inevitability of this, the better off you’ll be. We want everyone to love us, but all five-star reviews for one place is questionable to your audience. After all, nothing and nobody is perfect, right? Having a negative review isn’t the end of your world and in fact, should be viewed as the potential to turn that customer’s experience into a positive one on their next visit (that you should invite them to, see below), or learn from what the guest has to say.
2. Respond in a timely manner – The sooner that you acknowledge and respond to a review, the greater chance you have of making an impact on that reviewer. Besides the impact you make on the one who wrote the review, you’ll also show others who visit the review site that you are an owner who cares about reading the reviews and trying to make things right, if applicable.
3. Always give thanks – Whether positive or negative, it’s important to show your guests the value you place on their feedback.
4. Be personal – It’s easy to reply to all reviews by copying and pasting a standard response, but why not up the ante a little bit? Guests want to feel like whatever they say is appreciated and heard. If it is, you should show it. A simple, “I’m glad you enjoyed your burger!” will suffice and show that you actually read the individual’s review and want to start that interaction.
5. Make it right – Inviting in a guest who left a negative review for a meal on the house is a great chance to not only show your dedication to your customers’ experiences, but to gain a fan for life. More often than not, those guests who leave a negative review will be more than happy to try your restaurant out again and give you another, fair chance…and then write a positive review about the great time you are sure to show them! If the chance to make it right is not granted by the reviewer, respect their decision.
Have you been managing your online reputation? What has been the result?