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How to Handle Online Restaurant Reviews

Duncan Wallace

There are many positives and negatives of living in a world where customer reviews can make or break your business. Dealing with unsatisfied customers is tricky, but good reviews can be the reason you are bringing in business.

Sharing your experience has never been so easy. Yelp and Trip Advisor are all platforms that allow you to share your reviews, good or bad, with the rest of the world. As a restaurant owner or manager, you are at the mercy of your clientele and their opinion is what drives your reputation, so make sure it’s a good one. Social media is a great tool for this. It is easy to build a great reputation by getting customers excited about your bar or restaurant. Posting about any specials going on, events, contests, or new menu items can get you a lot of publicity.

While it might be easy to handle happy customers, it can be difficult to deal with unhappy ones. Learning to respond to negative reviews is important. It can be hard to detach yourself personally when receiving negative feedback on your bar or restaurant. Remember to read the review closely and do your research before responding. Find out what happened and hear your staff’s side of the story. While you are at it, do some research on the reviewer. Read some of their other reviews. Maybe this is common for them, or maybe this is an isolated event. Giving yourself a bit of context can make it easier to respond.

When responding to a post, remember that what you do on the internet will be there forever and how you respond will reflect your restaurant. Make sure you are mature and professional, even if the customer may seem wrong in the situation. Take all reviews as constructive feedback/opportunities for improvement and try to avoid any situation where this incident may occur again.

People are leaving their reviews because they want to be heard so make sure you ensure them that they are. Whether it’s a good review or a bad one, you should answer it no matter what. Reaching out and responding to customers shows that you took the time out of your day to consider their opinions and that these opinions are valued. Even if someone leaves a negative review, if you respond and prove to them that their customer loyalty is important to you then you may have a shot at getting them to return.

It is evident that online reviews are a vital aspect of the service industry. It is important to have a good reputation and you do that by ensuring your customers leave happy. When handling negative reviews, approach each one as an opportunity for improvement and do your best to meet customers expectations. The effort won’t go unnoticed.

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