Crisis management: How does a restaurateur react to negative online reviews?

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Crisis management: How does a restaurateur react to negative online reviews?

Almost every restaurant business is sooner or later confronted with negative reviews or complaints. Even if things are generally going well, there may be guests who see things differently. In doing so, restaurateurs have to deal with both constructive criticism and unfair reviews. Either way, it is important to react correctly to a negative evaluation and to smooth things over.

Here is a little guide to help you manage negative reviews on your business:

  1. Maintain rating platforms and your social media channels

The first step in properly dealing with bad reviews is knowing about the review platforms.  In addition to Facebook and Google My Business, there are many other portals on which customers can post reviews, such as Yelp or Tripadvisor. Claim your business listing on all these platforms. Check back regularly for new comments or ratings and get notified of new activities. You can also download them on your mobile phone to ensure you are notified by a push notification every time a customer leaves a review. In this way you can react promptly to the criticism - and of course also to praise. In no case should you just ignore negative reviews. After all, that would show that you do not value the opinions and wishes of your customers.

  1. Check the criticism

Read carefully what your customer wrote. A negative rating usually means that something went wrong. Check the allegation by asking your team how the complaint came about and whether the guest has already raised their concern on the spot.

  1. Thank them for the feedback

Regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative; thank the customers for their feedback. In any case, the customer should have the feeling that his opinion will not go unheard.

  1. Stay professional

The comments on rating portals are open to everyone which means: You should always react politely and professionally so as not to cast a bad light on your brand. After all, this is not a private dispute, but your business. Sarcastic replies or snappy comments don't belong there. Spelling mistakes also look unprofessional.

  1. Show empathy

Even if the customer's criticism is unfair or even abusive, always show understanding and formulate sentences as follows, for example, "We understand your criticism" or "Since customer satisfaction is important to us, we take your criticism very seriously."

  1. Depending on the situation: Apologize or refute the criticism

A ready-made, non-individual answer is not enough. Address every single point of criticism. If something went wrong, be honest and apologize. Point out that you will be working on problem areas. For example: "We see your feedback as an aid to optimize processes in our restaurant and to develop further" or "We would like to welcome you back as a guest so that you can see our progress for yourself." Are the criticisms incorrect or unjustified? set the situation right.

If the guest does not list any exact points of criticism, ask for a detailed description. Even if the guest did not reply, other readers can see that you are responding to criticism and striving to keep customers happy.

In addition, you could offer a free item to make up for it. If the criticism piles up on a certain matter, it is important to take the criticism seriously and work on it.

  1. Additionally: Ask satisfied guests for online reviews

Encourage satisfied guests to leave reviews online. Reviews are a ranking factor for Google. Bad reviews also have a negative impact on the Google ranking in the long term. Companies that have many and above all positive reviews are usually shown higher up by the search engines. In addition, many new customers orient themselves to the reviews on the Internet. Good ratings are therefore an advertising medium that should not be underestimated.


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