Blog > Online Reputation Management

Can bad online reviews knock your restaurant to the ground?

Posted by Localyser | Dec 09, 2019

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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 reputation protection seeker? Do you detest 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!

The digital realm once was a fringe-market, though now, it has quickly morphed into a universal industry influencer. 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 review sites 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. 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?

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! Though on the other hand, negative customer stories can be the fork to your soup! So, what should you do when your restaurant inevitably gets 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.

Look for patterns, 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. If you find that all your dishes are going over beautifully, but there’s a regular complaint about the service or the hygiene, investigate further to see what could be improved.

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, 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.

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.

More than a quarter of restaurants admit to experiencing bad publicity and 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.

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. Because simply, the reviewer may have actually given your restaurant a boost!

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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