The Good with the Bad
Remember the saying that goes a little something like this: “If you have nothing nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” Well unfortunately, that idea did not cross over to the social media comments section. I think we all have heard the stories or know someone who has been affected by a negative review left in the comments section. Sometimes, a single negative comment can lead to a full blown viral and legal nightmare. A recent study also showed that nearly 8 out of 10 U.S. adult Internet users check online reviews before they make a purchase or visit a business, according to a survey by YouGov.com. This means that reviews, good or bad, can really influence public perception of your business to either drive sales or cause sales to contract. Here are three tips on how to handle negative reviews in order to lessen the blow to your restaurant’s bottom line.
1. Remain calm and courteous
It’s natural to get mad when someone criticizes your business, especially if you feel the complaint is unfounded. You try to run your business as best as possible, so a bad review can not only feel like an attack, but it becomes personal. There are no winners when anyone responds out of anger, and what’s worse, it might possibly spiral into a viral nightmare. No small business owner wants to be the raging entrepreneur who couldn’t handle negative feedback. Take some time to collect your thoughts and get all your ducks in a row before you respond. Maybe even write yourself an email to review later and see how your thoughts come across on screen. Be the professional by being gracious in your response; thank them for the feedback, post a sincere apology and offer to look into their concern and make it right. Do not post a response that’s defensive, and do not get into an argument with a customer on a public review site.
2. Turn a possible negative into a positive for your business.
Without sounding like you’re challenging the guest’s comments, convey why his or her experience is rare one in a genuine and non-condescending tone. The right type responses can be a great way to flip the script and frame your business in a positive light, while still addressing the customer’s concerns. A best-case scenario you can hope for is when you respond to negative reviews, is to have that unhappy consumer revise their initial review when their complaint is dealt with and make it into a positive one. That goes to show that you should never ignore a negative review—as each one presents a possibility for not only some good brand marketing, but also presents an opportunity for receiving more positive feedback after the customer's issues are resolved!
3. Be authentic and personal.
You never want to come off like you’re giving an automated response. You or any employees who respond to negative online reviews should use your real names (or first name and last initial), explain your role in the business and give your direct phone number or email. Or if you feel that reaching out to this person directly will be the best approach, go for it. Sometimes a minor issue can be resolved with a quick phone call or email. It all depends on how comfortable you are with this approach, and how well you can take a tongue lashing without getting angry, and how good of a rapport you have with the reviewer. When it comes to replying to negative reviews, sincerity is the key. The easiest way to be authentic is to reach out to a customer on a personal level. You want the customer to know that you have read their review and you’re taking the time to write a personalized response. Don’t cut-and-paste a short, generic answer that ignores their concerns. Instead, use the customer’s first name in your response and include specific details from their reviews, such as product names or service details. With the right response, your business can even turn a negative review into a learning opportunity and something positive by taking the opportunity to demonstrate great customer service.
In the end, you can continue to prioritize quality service and quickly diffuse negative feedback with the right responses. By demonstrating great customer service, the number of positive reviews will far outweigh the occasional bad review. And with that said, stay tuned for our next blog regarding positive reviews.