10 Tips: Bounce Back from a Bad Restaurant Review

Ever get a bad review on Yelp or Urbanspoon? Have a patron leave play by play tweets about poor service? Get slammed by a local restaurant reviewer? Negative press can escalate quickly with social media. The Local Consumer Review Survey in 2012 reported that approximately 72% of consumers surveyed said they would trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Thankfully, as a restaurant owner, you can respond and make amends to disgruntled customers and save your reputation.

Below we’ve listed 10 tips for bouncing back from a bad restaurant review.

  1. Fix the Problem: It’s important to take the initial steps to fix the issue at hand. Give yourself and your business the street cred you deserve by fixing the problem before you respond to any bad press and negative reviews.
  2. Get on the Same Page: Keep all of your employees in the loop. Waitstaff, chefs, and managers should know exactly how to handle questions regarding bad press. If you prefer that they defer any questions to management or a designated spokesperson, communicate that with them. Also, do your best to ensure your employees are not making matters worse by propagating the rumors.
  3. Respond Immediately: Ignorance isn’t always bliss. Prolonging your response decreases the opportunity to recover your reputation. Respond quickly and via the same media (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc.) as the customer’s original review.
  4. Apologize: Don’t argue – if you’ve made a mistake, own it and apologize.
  5. Encourage Discussion: As much as you want to move beyond this PR disaster, be open to discussion and encourage it. Give yourself the opportunity to drive the conversation and reinforce your business’ good qualities.
  6. Reinforce Your Original Brand Concept: Despite temporarily being connected with the negative review, increase marketing to reinforce your restaurant’s merits and positive selling points.
  7. Step up Your Philanthropy: Being a community contributor on a consistent basis will eventually overcome any negative press. Be a good neighbor, and then brag about it. Sponsoring a food drive? Utilize social and local media to vocalize your contributions.
  8. Re-Focus Your Marketing: If you’re consistently getting bad reviews about your burgers, you might want to re-focus your marketing strategy from “World’s Best Burgers” to something new. Avoid promoting anything that is currently the center of controversy.
  9. Learn from Your Mistakes: You can’t predict when or why a customer will leave a bad review, but there’s a good chance that it resulted from a flaw in the way you run your business. Fix the problem, but learn from this mistake – be ready to make changes to avoid it in the future.
  10. Humanize Your Business: Utilize social media, video, and review pages to respond with sincerity. Don’t be afraid to add humor, but be real, concise, and empathetic – it’s a great chance to right a wrong and earn a customer for life.

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