Ninety percent of clients read a restaurant’s reviews before eating there.
Nobody will visit your restaurant if you have a reputation for bad service or tasteless food.
But online reputations aren’t just important for restaurants. Massive banks have collapsed, sports athletes forced to retire, and celebrities disgraced because of their reputations. This makes your restaurant's reputation priceless.
If you're currently going through a crisis, whether it's something small like getting a bad review online or a more significant issue like a customer finding something unpleasant in their food, don't worry.
This post covers everything you need to know about online reputation recovery. We go over how to prepare and recover from a reputation disaster while giving helpful tips that'll make the scandal blow over quicker.
Let's say you walk into a new restaurant. You sit down, and it takes several minutes before you even get a menu. Once it finally arrives, the waiter is rude. Then the kitchen is slow when preparing your dish.
When you get home, you give the restaurant a one-star review and explain how bad the service was.
Within a few months, a few thousand people have viewed your comment, which causes them to choose another restaurant.
It's safe to assume that the restaurant has lost hundreds of customers simply because of a single comment.
But let's say your experience is perfect. Service is on point, the food is delicious, and the managers are friendly. You give the restaurant a five-star review while telling everyone about your wonderful experience. This will have the completely opposite effect.
This is the power of your online reputation. A simple comment can cause you to lose or make thousands of dollars as a restaurant.
But what if your restaurant succumbs to a more significant crisis like failing a health inspection or accidentally serving nuts to someone with an allergy? You'll need to set your online reputation recovery plan in motion.
Here's how to recover your reputation in nine simple steps.
Before you even try to recover your online reputation, you must understand how the problem happened and how you can avoid it in the future.
For example, if someone has an allergic reaction after eating a dish prepared by your chefs, you need to understand what has gone wrong. Did your employees mislabel the products, or did the waiter place the wrong order?
Or, if a customer files a complaint about a rude waiter, you need to sit down with that waiter and understand how the situation played out.
Once you find out how the problem unfolded, you must ensure that it doesn't happen again. For instance, you could send your chefs for more training and emphasize the importance of correctly labeling products.
If a waiter placed the wrong order or was rude to a customer, retrain them on how to take an order and talk to customers.
Firing the employee at the root of the problem might not always work. By retraining your team members, they'll realize their mistakes and the repercussions and will aim to avoid them in the future.
Once you've trained or retrained your employees to make sure the problem doesn't happen again, you need to offer a formal apology to the customer.
If a customer is hospitalized due to eating something they’re allergic to, get some flowers and other goodies and deliver them to the hospital. This personal touch goes a long way.
Or if someone has received bad service in your restaurant, apologize and give them a coupon for a free meal.
Honestly explain the situation and the measures you took to ensure it won't happen again.
Now that you've fixed the root of the problem while apologizing to your customers, it's time to manage your online reputation.
Everyone's emotions are running high during a crisis, so you need to take a deep breath and stay calm.
It takes patience to fix bad reputations, and after a while, most tend to lash out. Doing this on social media can cause more trouble and gets you nowhere.
For example, if a customer gets food poisoning after eating one of your meals and a tabloid publication blows it out of proportion, don't stress. There's nothing you can do, and regardless of how well-reasoned your defense is, arguing on social media will do more harm than good.
Instead, focus your social media efforts on rebuilding your brand through different channels like content marketing, SEO, email marketing, and social media campaigns.
Once you've kickstarted your reputation recovery campaign, it's time to remove or suppress anything that harms your brand. This could be:
Also, remember that information can be removed through legal means.
But if you can't remove negative content, try suppressing it. Use SEO techniques to target a specific keyword causing problems. For example, Chipotle dealt with many people finding leaves in their food; however, this was part of their spice mix.
So they created a detailed page talking about that type of leaf, and it ranked first on Google.
Doing something new is a fantastic way to stop people from talking about negative past events.
For example, you could partner with a local charity and donate a certain amount of money for every dollar spent. You could also run a discount or "buy one get one free" promotion. Not only is this a good initiative, but it gets people talking about something new.
This brings more people into your restaurant while ensuring bad reputations quickly blow over.
The perfect time to rebuild your brand is when recovering from a crisis. This could be anything from encouraging initiatives to implementing new marketing strategies.
If you're relying on foot traffic and conventional marketing to bring people in the door, start looking into building an email list, creating a blog, or running online ads, and use creative strategies to grow these channels. For example, to encourage people to sign up for your email newsletter, you could do giveaways. This helps the reputations of any restaurant.
Also, 75% of people don't scroll beyond the first page of Google, making it essential to only post positive content. You want potential customers' first impressions of your brand to be positive.
If you have positive content ideas, publish and promote these pieces as soon as possible because they’ll push the negative search results down.
When going through a reputational crisis, it's essential to gather feedback from customers to assess whether you’ve repaired the damage or not. Restaurants can’t recover their reputations if they don’t know what they’re doing right and wrong.
You could gather feedback using social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which will allow you to tailor your online reputation recovery strategy. Surveys are also helpful at identifying problems in your restaurants that you otherwise might not have known about.
For example, if untrained waiters providing lousy customer service gave you a bad online reputation through low reviews, you could ask followers to fill out a form. In it, they'll provide you with feedback on how your waiters perform.
Alternatively, whenever a customer finishes eating their meal, you could ask if they'd like to fill out a quick survey. This shouldn't be long—around two to five questions—but it allows you to gather real-time data on the issue causing problems.
The most crucial factor to consider when recovering your online reputation is that it'll take time. This could last several months or even a few years.
During this time, be prepared to face issues you didn't expect to encounter. For example, some employees might resign because they don't want to be associated with the crisis. Or establishing connections with suppliers and other restaurants might not be as straightforward as before.
However, it's essential to understand that bad reputations will blow over. It might sound cliche, but something else will catch the media's attention, and nobody will remember the problems you're facing today. But you have to stay consistent.
So continue rebranding your business, managing relationships with customers and the media, and gathering feedback. You can also create a roadmap of recovery that looks something like this:
Once everything is clear, you need to prepare just in case something similar happens again. Restaurants won’t have to restore their reputations if they prevent crises.
You can do this by putting new staff through an extensive training program while ensuring more experienced team members aren't getting complacent.
Also, keep a close eye on your social media pages for negative reviews. Once you've received a negative review, apologize, offer a discounted or free meal, and inform the customer about how you've solved this issue.
Online reputation recovery is essential to any restaurant's survival because it allows you to maintain a relationship with existing customers while bringing in new ones. Recovering your restaurant's reputation takes a lot of patience, but it's pretty straightforward.
It's vital to acknowledge your mistakes, fix them, and tell your customers how you did so. You should also keep in mind that regardless of how bad a scenario seems, it'll blow over. Just be patient, fix the root of the problem, and keep improving using customer feedback.
If you're looking to quickly recover your restaurant's reputation, consider signing up for a free trial with Localyser.
The following is a set of “must haves” which customers seek to see when you are responding to them online.
As a restaurant owner, your business’s reputation is one of your most important assets. It can take years to build a solid online reputation but only hours to lose it. Reviews can make or break a restaurant, so how do you improve and maintain a positive reputation? With an online reputation management checklist.