When it comes to running a restaurant you are quite literally dealing with some very picky taste buds. Just like when asking your patrons how they like their steak, you are never going to get the same response each time someone then goes on to leave a review. That’s where guest review management should come into place.
None of us are perfect, and the same is absolutely true for any business. Sometimes the quality might slip a little more than is ideal. Or perhaps you’ve gone out of your way to please your customer, and they are still not happy with the service they received. It’s frustrating, right?
If that sounds like you, don’t be discouraged. Running a restaurant is tough, but there are some great practical ways you can deal with negative reviews, that might even leave your business better off for it.
The reality is there’s a fine line between managing your reviews and letting them sink your business. So if you own a restaurant, here’s how to master your review management for the better.
Customer First Approach
As the saying goes “the customer is always right”. While the reality for those actually working behind the scenes might give a different response, what is true is that without any customers you don’t have a business. This could not be any more true in the restaurant trade, where you need a constant stream of diners to keep your business afloat.
It’s important to get into the mindset of your customer to understand both positive and negative feedback. Getting lots of positive feedback feels great for your whole team, and you could even look to reward particular chefs or wait staff that go beyond to give great customer experience.
If you receive a negative review then that means your customer has had a bad experience. The first port of call is to get on top of why that is. The key is to perfect your customer service so that all your staff are on the same page, and know-how to professionally deal with the situation.
Social Media Complaints
Social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s an incredible tool that can market your restaurant to thousands of potential customers. On the other, it’s a place where people can say exactly what they want about the experience they had with you. Even if it’s not true! Unlike in the old days where this would be handled over the phone or even in an email – it’s public for anyone to see.
So, what exactly should you do if you get a bad review on social media? It’s important to think about your response before you jump in. Remember that although we all use social media outside of work, it’s a very different beast when it concerns your business. Therefore, you must respond appropriately.
There have been many cases where restaurant owners have responded inappropriately to negative reviews. The outcome has gone viral for all the wrong reasons. All it takes is one screenshot and your business could be forever tarnished.
When crafting your response, remember you’re not just replying to the person who made the complaint, you’re also replying to all those who will see it when researching your restaurant to book. You need to show that you value your customers and are on top of any issues that may have occurred.
The last thing you want is to see a negative guest review about your restaurant without trying to remedy the situation. If it’s in a public arena such as Facebook or TripAdvisor, it will only make your restaurant look as if it doesn’t care enough to respond, or worse still that it’s all true!
If a genuine problem or mistake has occurred, the best course of action is to contact the affected parties. It’s important that no matter whether someone is praising your restaurant or is grumbling about it, you respond with the same level of customer service.
One way of showing an apology is to offer something to your customer, known as a sweetener deal. Sweetener deals could include a refund on their meal or a discount on a future visit. You could even throw in a free drink, dessert or side if they are currently still in your restaurant.
If there has been a mix up with an order, this is a great remedy and it can really nip a potentially bad review in the bud. Sweetener deals may have a small cost involved to the business, but can save potentially thousands in lost custom due to negative reviews.
Appreciate the Learning Curve
Let’s be honest, nobody likes getting a bad review about their business. Not only does it feel pretty deflating, it can also harm your reputation. It is, however, something that’s unavoidable at least in small doses.
When someone leaves you a bad review, you need to take the time to recognise why that’s the case and if you or your team could have done anything differently. It might actually be an issue you weren’t previously aware of, so rectifying this could improve the customer experience for all your diners.
Food is a very personal thing so it’s impossible to please everyone all the time. It does, however, speak volumes if you are at least willing to listen to customer complaints and make the effort to take action off the back of it.
Running a restaurant can be stressful, not least when you have to respond to negative reviews within a public arena. The main thing to take away is that it’s important to face up to all reviews good and bad and learn from the situation. You must always put a professional foot forward and look for the best ways to remedy the situation without causing further problems.
If you run a restaurant, have you discovered our review management system? Our software can display all of your reviews from social media in one place, and remove the prominence of any bad ones for your peace of mind. Plus, we can streamline your marketing with personalised emails, SMS and automated messages, to keep your customers in the loop about your latest deals and promotions, sending updates right to their phones.
By having your restaurant marketed professionally, you can concentrate on what you do best – serving up delicious food with amazing customer service.