Getting some criticism is healthy and can be very beneficial in improving your business
It’s happened to all of us. You spend an abundance of your day running around at work striving to get the pat on the back approval from your boss, coworkers or customers, only to not receive the praise you were expecting. In the restaurant industry, this criticism happens every day as food professionals aim to provide the best possible experience to hungry patrons. Fact of the matter is, you could staff one of the most highly-respected chefs in the country and be a five-star rated establishment and still will not be able to escape some scathing reviews from customers.
There are two different types of restaurant diners: there are those who will have a not-so-satisfying experience when eating out and silently vow to be more selective when making Friday night dinner reservations, and those who choose to blast their social media feeds and Yelp pages with one-star reviews and reflections of their poor experience. Although these comments could be painful for restaurateurs to consume as they potentially will leave a negative taste to more than the one person who wrote the review, there are ways to deal with the negative feedback that could be a positive turnaround for both you and the customer.
Apologize and Respond Quickly
When you receive a negative review from a customer, don’t panic. Getting some criticism is healthy and can be very beneficial in improving your business. As infuriating as it may seem, you can’t please everybody and every single person that dines at your restaurant is not going to have the greatest experience of their lives. Stay calm and apologize to the customer regarding whatever issue they raised a complaint about. And do this as soon as possible. If the customer is voicing how unhappy they were about the slow service they experienced during their last visit to your restaurant, respond by telling the customer that you are sorry that they had a less than enjoyable experience and that you are working to correct the problem as soon as possible. Perhaps offer to send them a gift card to show them that you are taking their review seriously and value their opinions.
Figure Out the Problem and Fix It
Unless you have one or two reviews from impossible-to-please customers who just want to make a fuss over their “too pulpy” orange juice, you may see a pattern in your comments. Go through each review and see if the same problems arise (ex: drafty dining room, rude waitress, customers receiving consistently cold meals). Once you can narrow down some of the main concerns, you can use this constructive feedback and find a solution. Maybe you need to organize a training session for your employees, or adjust the temperature in your dining rooms as it may be cooling down the dishes before they even get to the customer. Negative reviews could have a strong influence on customers, but it does not mean you should hang up your chef’s hat. Failing to react to these issues and fix them in a timely manner, however, will affect your businesses success.
Follow-Up with Your Reviewers
This may not always be an appropriate step, but many times you will have the opportunity check in with the customer. Of course, if you have a customer who tore apart everything about your restaurant from the décor to the thinness of their napkin, you may want to just brush their words off and move forward. Remember, you will not be able to please everyone so try not to get hung up on one poor review. But in many instances, following up with your customer could encourage them to remove or change their review. Reaching out shows that you care, considered what they had to say and are taking action.
While seeing only one star light up on a Google or Yelp review could be very disappointing, it does not mean that your dining room will be empty tomorrow. That’s just one person’s opinion, and does not represent every customer’s views. But if you do notice several red flags, be sure to tackle them head on and don’t ignore them. Having the knowledge of what you need to improve will only help your business grow.
About the Author: Courtney Ciandella has been the sole Marketing liason for Bielat Santore & Company since 2013. She is also the conductor behind the Who’s Who in the Restaurant Industry and Restaurant Tip of the Month series.