Dealing with Negative Customer Reviews

Dealing with Negative Customer Reviews

Any veteran of the industry will tell you that negative reviews are bound to happen at some point in your career as a manager. Even the best of restaurants who cater to their customers’ every needs will find themselves in this boat at one point or another, and the saying, ‘You can’t please everybody’ is Social Media and the Increase of Customer Reviews Before social media became so inundated in many of our lives, the way that we heard about restaurants and other businesses was mostly through advertisements and word­of­mouth.

While some customers may have walked out of your establishment dissatisfied for one reason or another, their train of complaints may have been more confined than today. The big difference is the increase in popularity of digital media such as review sites (Yelp, Google, etc) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc). Sure, you wouldn’t want to ignore a customer’s complaint before, but now more than ever, it pays to pay attention to those who are unhappy with their visit to your establishment.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Reviews come in all forms, and while you should always acknowledge those who praise your work, it’s the ‘bad and the ugly’ that truly needs the most attention. As soon as you spot a negative review, act quickly, swiftly, and professionally.

Here are some tips:

Respond ­ and promptly! The worst thing you can do is ignore a negative review, as it may blow out of proportion quickly. We’ve seen negative reviews go ‘viral’ in a matter of minutes or days, so get a leg up in the game by responding quickly.

Handle it offline. A public response is great for showing others who may see the review that you’re handling the situation, but the customer in question will probably feel more nurtured if you’re willing to take the conversation to a more personal level. Give the customer a call, or email/message them directly to try to correct the situation without having to reveal all the details on a public forum.

Be polite and attentive. The worst thing you can do is respond to a negative review in the same fashion that the issue was originally dealt with. This is the time to correct issues where possible, so have a manager handle the complaint directly instead of pushing it off to other staff members. You may find that a customer will be willing to change their review as well if you handle the matter appropriately!

● Request Removal. If a review is particularly vilifying or inflammatory, then you may actually request that it be removed from the review site. If there are any personal attacks within the review it is usually easier to get it removed. Be wary of sites that try to charge you to remove reviews. Sites like that are quicker to lose trust within the community so their reviews will matter less and less.

● Lesson Learned.  lMake good out of a bad situation. Learning from negative reviews may be the only thing left to do at the end of the day. Try to take away something positive out of a negative review by considering their points and making changes if necessary.

● Encourage Customer Reviews.  If you only have 5 reviews about your restaurant and 2 of them are bad, that makes a big difference in your rating, but if you have 20 reviews those 2 are no longer too dominant. Send a survey email or post something on your website, or even in the store asking for reviews. You can create a rewards system for customers who leave a review to encourage participation.

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April G.

April G.

Graphic Designer/Content Strategist at
Part Graphic Designer, part Content Strategist - April creates infographics and other marketing materials for QSROnline's lead generation and content strategy. When she's not working in Photoshop, she's practicing her vocals as the lead singer in her church's band.
April G.