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How to Handle Negative Reviews About Your Restaurant | Superorder

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March 26, 2024

How to Fix Your Restaurant’s Reputation After Receiving Bad Reviews

There's nothing more heart-sinking for a restaurant owner than receiving a negative review. While most can get over one or two bad customer comments, getting multiple bad restaurant reviews is more challenging to stomach. Not only does it hurt the ego, but there's also the worry of the potential impact on your business.

Customer reviews are important for restaurants. Whether you own a fast-paced eatery or a fine-dining establishment, your success hinges on your star ratings and restaurant reviews. Potential customers use reviews to learn more about your business. They can influence dining decisions, directly affecting how much foot traffic and revenue you get.

Bad restaurant reviews can impact your reputation. So, what can you do about them?

The good news is that it is possible to recover after bad reviews. While negative feedback can dent your otherwise perfect reputation, there's a lot you can do to repair the damage. In this blog, you'll learn how.

How Do Negative Reviews Impact Business?

Reviews of any kind are important for restaurants in a fiercely competitive market. The food industry is huge, and new competitors are on your heels, hoping to snatch some of your customer base. That's why it's so important to get good reviews.

With more great feedback, you develop a great reputation that can serve as a buffer against any negative attention from less-than-stellar customer experiences.

Receiving several bad reviews harms business more than most restaurant owners realize. The entire restaurant industry is like a giant game of word-of-mouth. Your establishment lives and dies by what people think. Unlike other sectors, no finite metrics and benchmarks exist to gauge quality.

Everything is subjective. Therefore, customers look toward the opinions of others to determine if your joint is worth a shot. Reviews matter. Recent surveys show that most diners take time to research restaurants.

They turn to Google Reviews on your Google Business Profile for a quick glimpse at your star ratings. Then, they might head to Yelp or TripAdvisor for more in-depth insights into everything from food quality to ambiance. Online reviews are a wealth of information for potential customers. If they like what they see, they'll turn into new customers!

Unfortunately, bad reviews can dampen the excitement people have about your restaurant. They can make diners second-guess your quality, making them lose trust in your restaurant business. Why visit an eatery with a recent trend of bad reviews when they can visit other local restaurants that don't?

Importance of Addressing and Resolving Issues Promptly

The first step in repairing your restaurant's reputation is addressing and resolving issues that lead to bad reviews. This is something that all local businesses can learn to do. It's not just restaurants that receive negative feedback.

Addressing concerns goes a long way. When people have a bad customer experience, it leaves an awful taste in their mouth and can sour the entire evening. They go home seething about whatever happened, pushing them to write a bad review.

The problem is that most of those concerns don't get resolved. So what happens? They stay angry, and their perspective of your business tanks!

The last thing you want to do is ignore a customer's complaints. Instead, you want to reach out and make things right. When you acknowledge those concerns, you show customers that you care.

Reaching out and doing what you can to make things right can leave a lasting impression on diners. In many cases, reviewers will update their posts. They may even give you a better review.

Analyzing Reviews for Common Themes

Don't assume that bad experiences are one-off events. If you're receiving bad reviews after bad reviews, there's something clearly going wrong within your business. Don't ignore it! You must figure out what's happening and why people are having such negative customer experiences.

Search for common themes in the reviews. You'll likely identify the pain point everyone is experiencing. Knowledge is power, and discovering the factor contributing to an awful experience empowers you to change it!

You can analyze reviews independently. However, the best way to do it is through software. Innovative platforms like Superorder can help you consolidate customer opinions and identify potential negative trends.

Identifying Areas of Improvement

As a restaurant owner, you should always push for improvement. The restaurant industry is ever-evolving. Customer preferences and needs change, and establishments that don't adapt will get left in the dust with bad reviews.

Treat those bad restaurant reviews as insight. While they may sting, they're an opportunity to improve. Best practices in the industry are to apply what you learn from reviews for positive change.

Importance of Acknowledging and Apologizing

Whatever you do, don't ignore negative restaurant reviews. More importantly, don't get defensive or combative when responding to reviews. It's easy to write an emotional response when you're passionate about your business or don't agree with what customers say.

Take a minute to step back, breathe and approach reviews with more accountability.

No restaurant is perfect! Try as you might; there will always be things you can improve.

What's important is that you acknowledge and apologize. People get heated after having a bad experience, and those feelings can sit long after they leave your dining room. Most customers who leave a bad review need empathy and apologies.

Reach out to reviewers. Acknowledge their experiences without getting into an argument and apologize for whatever happened. Make things right!

Simple acknowledgment goes a long way. It makes people feel seen and heard, making a big difference. Bad experiences can turn people away from your restaurant forever. But when you apologize and strive to do better, there's a good chance they'll try again.

Tips for Maintaining Professionalism in Responses

Responding to poor online reviews is key to repairing your relationship. But if you've ever seen a heated exchange on Google Reviews or Yelp, you know it's not always easy for business owners to remain professional.

As mentioned earlier, you should never respond when feeling the heat of a bad restaurant review. Take a step back and allow yourself to absorb what a customer says. Reflect on the situation and see things from their perspective.

The key to keeping responses professional is to be empathetic. Think about how you'd respond to their situation as a paying customer. Don't invalidate their feelings. Instead, come from a place of understanding.

Acknowledge the situation, apologize and reassure the customer that you understand their feelings. Then, consider telling them what you plan to do about it. You can extend an olive branch with a refund, discount or complimentary meal. However, the best approach is to show the customer that you're learning from the situation.

Addressing Specific Issues Raised in Complaints

Don't hesitate to address specifics when you respond. That's a great way to show customers you hear and take their complaints seriously.

However, you should do more than simply acknowledge the issues raised. If possible, take action to make things right.

That's not always possible. For example, a customer may complain about a specific employee, the quality of a dish or something that's not immediately fixable, such as slow service.

While you can't fix those issues immediately, you can acknowledge them and tell customers what you plan to do to prevent future problems. Addressing specifics shows that you're not ignoring the complaint. Not only does that provide peace of mind to the customer who left the poor online review, but it also shows potential new customers that you care enough to address it.

Improving Customer Service and Overall Experience

Many bad reviews are a product of lousy interactions with employees. Your waitstaff, hosts and cashiers are the face of your business. They're on the front lines, communicating and interacting with customers regularly. Poor customer service is one of the most common complaints in the restaurant industry.

Work to improve your team. Invest in training and adopt protocols for every worst-case scenario. Your staff should know how to act when customers make complaints. There needs to be measures in place to address problems quickly so that you can turn dissatisfied customers into happy patrons.

Encouraging Positive Reviews

One fantastic way to repair your reputation after bad reviews is to encourage positive ones. When it comes to star ratings, it's all a numbers game. Getting more positive comments will reduce the impact of negative statements.

Algorithms might also push more positive reviews to the front. For example, Google Reviews considers relevancy when ranking reviews, showing potential customers the most informative comments first.

Encourage your satisfied patrons to provide positive customer feedback. Direct people to your Google Business Page or review sites. You can do that on receipts, packaging and interactions with your staff.

Building Relationships with Satisfied Customers

Earning a great reputation can offset the effects of bad reviews. Treat your customers more than a source of revenue. Build bonds with regulars and continue to craft positive customer experiences.

Forging customer relationships can make a huge difference in your long-term success. It makes diners trust your business and provides greater credibility. Furthermore, customers who feel your restaurant is more than a place to eat are often more willing to recommend your establishment to others.

Implementing Incentives for Leaving Positive Feedback

There are many ways to build relationships and encourage reviews. One option is to provide incentives. Reward your happy customers for their support!

If you have a rewards program, you can grant additional points for every positive review. You can also offer discounts, free menu items and more.

Incentivizing positive reviews is a great way to increase your star ratings and offset the hit negative comments left on your reputation. People love rewards, so incentives can make a big difference in a short amount of time.

Utilizing Social Media and Online Platforms

Consider extending your responses beyond review sites. Many restaurateurs incorrectly assume that the only way to interact with customers is in the establishment or through review responses.

The reality is that the Internet gives you more ways to engage than ever before. Build your reputation by having a strong online presence. A restaurant's online reputation can make or break its success.

Be active on social media platforms and create profiles on multiple websites. Have dedicated pages on all the review sites and use them wisely to acknowledge feedback as it comes.

Regularly Monitoring Feedback

Monitoring the feedback you get can make all the difference. It's a form of restaurant reputation management that allows you to get in front of conversations about your restaurant and brand. People will talk about your establishment, for better or worse.

By monitoring those discussions, you can proactively mitigate the effects of bad reviews. For instance, social monitoring tools can highlight posts mentioning your restaurant. Use those tools to identify bad experiences, acknowledge your customers and take action to make things right before they publish a review.

Continuously Adapting and Improving Based on Customer Input

There's always room for improvement in your restaurant business. The best approach to reaching your full potential is to create a never-ending feedback loop!

Gather thoughts and opinions about your business and read reviews regularly. Then, turn that feedback into actionable insights for change. Apply what you learn to improve every facet of your business, from customer service to food quality.

After making those improvements, return to square one and do it all again! Feedback loops are how you push for growth and long-term success. It's about staying on top of patrons' thoughts and adapting to the ever-changing restaurant landscape.

You can't rest on your laurels in this business, so take every opportunity to learn and improve.

Consider Reputation Management Software

Reputation management strategies can be difficult to adopt and maintain without software guiding you in the right direction. Consider investing in platforms that make your job easier. Reputation management software can help you learn more about your customer base than ever before.

Furthermore, it gives you the tools to see comments in real time. Use the software to spot trends, discover potential issues you need to address and more.

Get Started With Superorder Today

Getting a negative online review is never fun. But instead of looking at those situations as moments of failure, treat them as opportunities for growth. Bad reviews can harm your reputation as a business, but they only have power when you don't do anything about them!

Take action, acknowledge bad experiences and work on addressing complaints. You can get through bad reviews unscathed when you take steps to correct errors and do right by your customers!

Let Superorder help you pick up the pieces after a bad review and pave the path to improvement. The all-in-one management software includes tools for feedback and review management. These powerful features give you more control over conversations about your restaurant, allowing you to develop effective strategies for restaurant reputation management and achieve long-term success. See what Superorder is all about and learn how it can improve your restaurant business today!

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