Restaurant operators hate to see bad reviews of their establishments. However, there are ways to fix bad restaurant reviews, as well as benefits to be gleaned from them.
Here are four steps to fix bad restaurant reviews.
1. Avoid overreacting. While your first instinct may be to “fix” bad restaurant reviews by firing off an immediate response, instead, think carefully before you respond. Otherwise, your reaction to bad restaurant reviews of any type may come off as excessively defensive, emotional, and even irrational—making the situation worse for you in the long run.
2. Plan your response. Craft a response on paper first before posting the final version on the website, blog, or social media site on which the review appeared. Go back to the source of the review and aim to post your response there — where whoever left it, along with that person’s friends and followers, are most likely to see it. It makes no sense, for example, to respond to a bad review on Yelp if that review appeared on a blog or Facebook page or in a Twitter feed.
Keep the conversation positive, word your response so it’s clear that you understand what the customer is saying, and explain how you will rectify the problem. For instance, if a customer’s complaint centered on your restaurant’s food, say something like, “We’re so sorry your lasagna wasn’t heated properly when you visited our restaurant on Saturday evening. We’ve let our staff know this occurred and will be sure it doesn’t happen again.
3. Reach out to the customer one-on-one. Apologize, then inquire or suggest what you can do to rectify the problem. Ask what you can do to demonstrate that you really value the customer’s business and want him or her to give your restaurant another try. Can you offer a meal on the house? Free drinks or dessert? The price you’ll pay for “freebies” to help fix bad restaurant reviews will pale in comparison to the effect of more bad reviews if you make no effort to make amends with the individuals who share them.
4. Fix the root of the trouble. For example, rectify a complaint about poor customer service by retraining employees on how to treat guests. Multiple negative comments about a particular dish? Change the recipe or remove it from the menu and replace with another option.
Bad restaurant reviews can actually result in benefits for your restaurant: You may find that a bad review:
- Sparks responses that protect your restaurant’s reputation, generate new business, and encourage loyal customers to return. Your restaurant’s reputation is far more likely to remain intact, and new and existing customers will be much more inclined to patronize it, when you properly attempt to fix bad restaurant reviews. The same is true if, through your responses, you demonstrate that you’re working to uphold high standards by addressing problems right away.
- Helps to identify areas that warrant improvement. You can’t rectify problems in your restaurant if you aren’t aware of them. Bad restaurant reviews can pinpoint what changes are needed, whether it’s enhancements to customer service, additional staff training, new policies and procedures (e.g., for reservations), or any combination thereof. The more positive changes you make in your restaurant, the more attention it will receive from local press — and the easier it will be to build brand awareness.
Finding out that you need to fix bad restaurant reviews may not be a pleasant experience. However, addressing these reviews the right way — and learning from them — can help your restaurant improve and grow in the long run.