All restaurants get bad reviews from a handful of guests, so there’s no reason to beat yourself up about it. What’s important is how you respond. Your public reactions (or lack thereof) affect all guest perceptions of your brand since social is the new word of mouth, so it’s a good idea to learn how to reply in a strategic way. Follow the process below to professionally manage your reputation.
Thank each commenter for taking time to leave feedback. It demonstrates your manners and shows you value input from everyone, even when the person being addressed isn’t necessarily nice. Keeping calm and polite goes a long way toward showing everyone you’re at least willing to listen.
Example: “Thank you for posting about your experience.”
Every response you write should look personal, not like a template. You can accomplish this by briefly mentioning what they wrote about.
Example: “I’m sorry to learn the (specific food or service) didn’t meet your expectations.”
No one is perfect, but the best businesses are always willing to improve. Adding a short message about your commitment to quality and guest satisfaction signals you’ll correct any problems you find.
Example: “We want every guest to be happy before, during, and after their meals.”
Of all the steps in the process listed here, this is among the most important. There is no need to show the world exactly how you deal with each upset customer. Request for them to contact you in a private channel, preferably by phone, so you can resolve the issue.
Example: “Please contact me at 234-567-8901 so I can get more details.”
Using your branded email address may have risks. See below.
Depending on the situation, when you speak privately, take the time to let them vent their frustrations and see if they offer a way you can make them feel better. If it’s reasonable, go ahead and do it. But before ending the call, politely ask if they’ll remove their negative post or revise it to reflect the new, positive experience they have received.
After requesting they contact you by phone or email, close your message by asking them to give your restaurant another try.
Example: “I hope you’ll consider visiting us again soon so we can make things right.”
Avoid using your restaurant name or a branded email when responding to negative feedback. It can get picked up by search engines and circulate online forever. You should also keep your responses short and simple—and only respond one time using the process listed here. Don’t get sucked into a flame war.
And finally, remember that some people are just jerks. You won’t be able to make everyone happy, because they don’t want to be.
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