Written reviews on restaurants are everywhere now. Not only do people hear good & bad experiences just through word of mouth, but looking up reviews is just a click away thanks to companies like Yelp and Google. Unfortunately, that means people can write a scathing review and the whole world can see. It happens to even the best places in town. So how should you handle this? Here are a few things to remind yourself about reviews and how to handle them.
- There will always be unsatisfied people. You can’t make everyone that walks in the door 100% satisfied. It’s just not realistic.
- Don’t ignore bad reviews on public sites. Potential customers looking at reviews can see you never responded and may think that the issue is still ongoing, which could deter them from walking in. Now if management actually responded, they will see that you take feedback seriously and value your customers’ experiences.
- Take your time to respond. No need to rush out a response right after the review was written just to say something. You want to include an effective response in a timely manner.
- When crafting a response, remember to apologize to the guest and thank them for being honest about their experience. Let them know you’d like to fix the issue they encountered. Offer a phone number or email for them to reach out privately and ensure that guests are actually receiving a response when they reach out. Offer them an incentive like a free drink or appetizer if they are willing to give your restaurant another try.
- Genuinely think about how you can prevent the same bad experiences happening to the next guests who walk in. If people are consistently upset about wait times or the fact that the drive-thru always forgets an order item, address the issue. Have a team meeting with your staff and figure out a resolution.
- Some guests may leave a suggestion type review. Maybe they didn’t like that you don’t cater to different food allergies or lifestyles or they may even suggest a new location for your business. Make sure to thank these guests for their suggestion. If there is a pattern in these types of reviews, think about the possibility of having a big enough customer base in order to branch out to meet these suggestions.
Although there are plenty of bad reviews out there, there are people who will write about an amazing experience they had as well! Handling these reviews are just as important!
- Graciously thank the customer for their support and for taking time out of their day to write a review. Also mention that you hope you can continue to maintain the same quality of service for years to come!
- Try to encourage guests who had a great experience to write a review. Offering incentives is a very popular survey/review tactic.
- Encourage customers who are regulars to write a review. I don’t know about you, but if I see a review where a person said they have been coming to the place for months or even years, I’m definitely more likely to walk in!
Always try to see your restaurant through a guest’s eyes. Be objective and open minded to the flaws your restaurant may have. Being aware of these flaws allows you to tackle these issues head on and allows you to foresee concerns before the bad reviews are even written!
Christine Sanchez, MSA