How to Deal With Negative Online Reviews
It’s hard to please everyone. That’s as true in the hospitality industry as it is everywhere else. No matter how excellent your place of business may be, someone’s going to find something they don’t like about it.
And with the many easy to use review hubs and websites found on the Internet, it’s only a matter of time before an angry customer lets you know about it with a poor review.
So, what are the best ways to react to receiving a negative review online?
Respond With Kindness and Honesty
The first thing to do should always be to get in touch with the person who’s left the review, and the faster you can do it, the better.
Often when people leave these kinds of reviews, they’re looking for attention or for a sign that someone will look into their complaints. Reaching out is a great way to start the healing process.
Most review websites allow you to respond to reviews directly, and if you’re looking for a less public conversation with your unsatisfied customer, reaching out through email or phone is an option as well.
Whether it’s to apologize, offer a refund, clarify a misunderstanding, or anything else, starting a dialogue with the unhappy reviewer is the right first step.
Just remember to keep the conversation honest, appear compassionate, and make it look like you’re doing everything you can to be reasonable. Never come out swinging—this will only make you seem petty and could potentially damage your reputation.
Take the Review Seriously
Customer complaints should always be taken seriously. Negative feedback can bring to light opportunities for growth and improvement. If a bad review has highlighted a legitimate flaw in your business, it’s your responsibility to do something about it.
For example, if the issue is with food, examine the dish in question and determine if a change needs to be made to it or your menu.
If it’s an issue with customer service, share the review with the relevant employees and discuss ways to improve service.
Whatever the problem is, if one customer was bothered enough by it to leave a review, chances are others have noticed it as well.
Request the Review Be Removed
If someone has posted an especially defamatory review and speaking with them has done nothing to change their minds, it is possible to get the website to remove the review.
It’s a complicated process that requires you to claim your business listing, but it can be done if the website feels your concerns about the review are warranted.
You’ll need to make a compelling argument why the review should be removed, but many review sites will remove reviews if your case is legitimate.
You may also want to look into the history of the reviewer. Reviewers who are only leaving bad reviews may be discredited by those who read their reviews upon further exploration. Sadly some abuse the integrity of the online review process. By looking into the reviewer’s history of activity, it can reveal affiliations with competitors or perhaps those who carry a personal grudge.
Encourage Reviews for Positive Experiences
No one leaves a review for no reason. Customers must be motivated to take time after their restaurant experience to leave their thoughts on the Internet.
Strong emotion motivates action, and if that emotion is negative, people are more likely to give you a piece of their mind when they’re upset about something.
So, how do you get more reviews from your customers?
By asking for them.
By encouraging customer reviews through messages on menus, take out bags, social media, and any other points of engagement, the odds of a customer leaving a review will go up.
While this could draw out some bad reviews, the positive reviews will hopefully outnumber and obscure the negative ones if you have a strong business.
Use Social Media
Instagram and Twitter can be used for more than just letting people know what’s going on with your business. They’re great tools for establishing a dialogue between you and your customers.
By interacting with your customers by engaging and responding to them through social media, a relationship is created, and trust is formed. As a result, customers are more likely to reach out to you directly when they have a problem, allowing you to deal with and get ahead of a negative review before it’s posted.
Social media is also great for finding out what people think of your business. Web tools like Reputology and Social Mention can help you track what’s being said about your business and help you keep on top of any negative comments coming up.
CHI Real Estate: Toronto’s Restaurant Real Estate Specialists
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