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Can bad online reviews knock your restaurant to the ground?

Posted by Localyser | December 9, 2019

Some restaurant owners seem to believe that any bad online review is a reflection on the quality of their business. While others debate there is no such thing as bad press, therefore, they hold no worries about bad online reviews out of their belief that they don’t hurt. In which camp do you fit? Are you a online reputation protection seeker? Do you detest a negative review and review sites? Plus, can a bad online review really crack your dish?

Since Yelp’s inception in 2004, consumers have posted more than 24 million restaurant reviews on the platform. That figure doesn’t even include the mountain of online reviews that appear on other sites, such as Google reviews – with the fight of appearing on Google home page ­– TripAdvisor, Facebook, ReserveOut, Zomato, and what have you! Does online reputation management come to mind? 

The digital realm once was a fringe-market, though now, it has quickly morphed into a universal industry influencer. As a business owner, you have to think about online reputation management. But the way consumers use the technology has changed, making restaurant operators strongly consider review sites a trendsetter.

Studies show that consumers trust review sites as much as personal recommendations from real people. 68% of consumers go to social networking platforms and a review platform to check the “creds”. 90% of consumers say that positive online reviews influence their decisions. This tells us that somewhere between 67% and 90% of consumers check review sites prior to visiting, whether it’s boys-night-out or a weekend-treat in a luxury 5 stars restaurant. It might seem, therefore, like any bad online review would cast an immediate negative effect on your eatery. After all, having such reviews shows that your diner isn’t as perfect as you thought it is, right? The truth is that any sensible customer knows that nobody is perfect and negative content and negative comments are invetible. Instead of showing that customers choose to only visit restaurants that have five stars reviews while patronizing the ones that don’t.

The million-dollar question is, what should you do about bad reviews? Hmm, think about online reputation management.

Here’s a useful note “good customer stories can build your business”, there’s nothing more impactful than the story of an unsatisfied customer whom you’ve made happy! All about online presence. Though on the other hand, negative customer stories and their negative review can be the fork to your soup! So, what should you do when your restaurant inevitablygets some bad reviews?

Don’t take it personal and acknowledge the customer online, the first thing that restaurants should do when they get a negative review is to acknowledge the customer online with an apologetic approach while thanking them for their constructive criticism. Try not to get overly emotional as this isn’t a direct attack on yourself. You should keep in mind the customer felt they had a bad experience, this is a chance to learn from any discrepancies. 

Look for patterns on online review sites, if you find that customers who come into your restaurant at dinner are having a markedly different experience than lunch time, it’s worth looking into your staff to see what the problem might be. Is it customer service? If you find that all your dishes are going over beautifully, but there’s a regular complaint about the hygiene, investigate further to see what could be improved. Look into customer reviews online to see what they are saying about different times to figure out which staff members to address and improve this negative experience. 

For isolated incidents, reach out to the customer, express regret for their unpleasant experience and extend an invitation to call/email and speak to you directly about what happened. Your goal is to get the conversation offline so that you and the customer can speak freely. Once you’ve made contact with the unhappy customer, listen to their concerns and make notes; some of them may be valid and need to be addressed. Offer them a gift card or a refund, something to make them return later and hopefully have a better experience. This can potentially reduce the chances of the customer leave a negative review or worse, fake reviews. 

Don’t worry, one or two bad reviews aren’t going to tank your business. Focus on fixing what went wrong and collecting more positive online reviews. Look after your reputation management and remember, potential customers are in the near future! 

More than a quarter of restaurants admit to experiencing bad publicity on review sites or social media sites. The financial impact of negative content affects both income and expenses. Waiting until a problem arises, or pretending one doesn’t exist, only increases the time and cost of recovery until happy customers  are achieved.

Take this home, the ultimate-goal of all businesses should be providing great experiences, thus, enhancing customer experience should be viewed as an investment rather an expense.
Localyser can look after your reputation management to improve your positive reputation and online content. Because simply, the reviewer may have actually given your restaurant the personal recommendation and boost by leaving a positive review!

Having said that, have you Googled your restaurant lately? If you haven’t, I suggest you do, as you may be surprised by what you find!

Sources: Search Engine Land. VOCUS. Dimensional Research.

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