How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews

How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews
“This is the worst restaurant ever, ruined my anniversary. Food was boring, bitter coffee with a bad service and because of this, my whole day went really awful.”

After all the hard work that is involved in running a restaurant, such review at the end of the day is devastating.

Have you ever thought of the impact that a negative review has on your business? We cannot stress how important it is to maintain positive ratings and reviews when it comes to your venue. These days, people read reviews before stepping into your restaurant. We can’t stress enough on the direct impact reviews have on any hospitality venue.

According to a ReviewTrackers survey, 51.7 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to their online reviews within seven days, and 21 percent of those expect a reply within 24 hours. People looking for information on restaurants, cafes, and bars rely on the internet. In addition, in the spring of 2017, there were 89.46 million internet users in the U.S. who'd checked restaurant information online in a span of 30 days. These statistics show that a restaurant's online reputation can indeed influence a consumer's dining and purchasing behavior.

Why restaurants usually get negative reviews?

Here is a list of most common reasons for bad reviews:

  • Bad food
  • Rude staff behavior
  • Long waiting times
  • Very loud music
  • Lousy environment
  • Poor ambiance
  • Extra/hidden charges

How to handle such bad reviews?

According to the Washington Post, nearly 80% of complaints happen online and not in your restaurant. Restaurant reviews are serious whether they are positive or negative. If you are the owner of any restaurant or a manager, then you need to be proactive. Don't think negative reviews are bad; they help you up your game by improving your customer service. Bad/negative reviews are one way to help you learn from your mistakes and improve services and operations. These days, we have social media automation tools to handle reviews if they are written on any of the venue’s social profiles.

Although you need to be proactively monitoring the web for customer feedback and reviews, sometimes, AI (Artificial intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) technologies can help.

Nitin Pal Singh, Managing director at Cook and Bake Academy says most of the times the customer complaints are correct and need to be taken them seriously.

Nitin Pal Singh, Managing director at Cook and Bake Academy

So how do you handle these negative reviews?

1. Read the review and do some research on the issue (Negative review) See the details like the date of the review left on the site, the tone of the review, the name of the customer who wrote the review, and which staff member the complaint is about.

2. Do some research on the customer who left the review Make a note of these points, Do you know the customer who wrote the review? Is it a regular or someone who only came in once? If it’s anonymous, can you tell if it’s a legitimate review? Sometimes, such reviews can be intentional and purposely done to damage the reputation of a business. If you find that it is just an anonymous and misleading review, then just respond with asking the further details to make it more clear.

3. If the review is legit, then apologize Consider the two responses you might give: “I am so sorry we messed up.” “I am so sorry you feel that way.” Both answers are apologetic, but they quickly move the conversation into other areas. You need to shift the focus from what happened to why it happened that day mainly.

4. Solve the problem One way is to make the angry/upset customer happy. Invite them personally to your restaurant/hotel and offer them a discount. Make sure you do everything right this time. Talk to them one on one personally and try to explain the things that happened previously in a pleasing way, stress on the importance of customer reviews and how you appreciate their business.

Did anybody had a bad experience when it comes to reviews? What's your story? How did you handle it?

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