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1. Identify the problem & customer’s dispositionThe customer is clearly angry in this review because they were kicked out of a restaurant that they frequent. They are also angry because they believe that they were kicked out due to racial bias. The manager and hostess were identified as the “culprits” in this review. Whether this review is 100% honest or not, you must treat it as if it is. The customer ALWAYS comes first.
2. Respond to the customer feedback ASAPTiming is EVERYTHING. The restaurant who received this review responded to the review weeks later. This makes them appear to have bad time management skills as well as being careless and not concerned with their customer service. The customer is clearly speaking in an angry tone so it is important to respond to all issues in the review with neutral wording. NEVER fight fire with fire, especially in the world of business because credibility is EVERYTHING. Example message: Good Afternoon *insert customer name.* We apologize for the way that you were treated at our restaurant on *insert date here.* We have spoken with our management and hostess staff to ensure that a situation such as this will not occur again. We are an inclusive restaurant that does its best to serve all customers with five star service. We would like to invite you back to *insert restaurant name* to give us another chance and try one of our famous dessert dishes, complimentary. Thank you for your review. Your feedback matters.
3. Determine a remedy
4. Make sure that it doesn’t happen againTo ensure that this issue does not occur again and future negative reviews can be avoided, speak to staff members about the situation. Get their insights and opinions on what happened and work with them to make sure they have proper training in regards to the conflict. It’s better to be proactive and keep the negative experience from occurring instead of having to do damage control.
Picture this. You’re at a new restaurant that just opened up down the street. You figured you’d give it a shot and who knows, maybe it’ll be the new “go-to” for date night! So you grab a couple friends and you all end up having a great time and enjoying a delicious meal. You go home, spread out on the couch, watch some late night tv, and sleep soundly knowing you found a new favorite restaurant and had a fun night out with your friends.
Now let’s rewind a couple hours. You’ve just arrived at the new restaurant. The wait is 30 minutes long even though there’s hardly anyone there and the staff is running around frantically, hardly paying any attention to you. You finally sit down at your table, the waitress brings you some waters, and disappears for 20 minutes while you’re looking at menus. She comes back, takes your order, your food arrives 30 minutes later, cold and bland. Needless to say, you had a terrible first experience and you go home complaining about the bad service and mediocre (at best) food, and you and your friends agree you will not be going back to that place again anytime soon.
So with 100% honesty answer this question: under which of these two circumstances would you be more likely to go online and write a review for the restaurant? I don’t know about you, but I hardly ever write a good review for a business, and I can name a couple occasions in which I wrote negative reviews. This is why I have made a resolution for myself, as I encourage you to do as well, that I am going to post reviews every time I visit a business, regardless of what kind of experience I had.
Whether you are a business owner, or an employee, you are also a consumer, allowing you to take action to better businesses’ customer service on both ends of the stick. Just as it is your responsibility to respond to the negative reviews your business may receive, it is also your responsibility to give feedback to other companies, good or bad, in the hopes that they too can improve upon their customer service as well.
Receiving negative reviews online is unavoidable for any company, so being prepared and knowing how to respond to these negative reviews when you do receive them is extremely important in managing your customer relations and maintaining a good brand image. Below I have included 5 tips for responding to a negative review online:
1. Read and Reread the Review 2. Include their name in the response (if possible)
Prior to responding to a negative review, you want to make sure you get a thorough understanding of what the customer is complaining about so you do not forget to include anything in your response. For example if you own a restaurant and the customer is complaining about the terrible service and that their soup arrived cold, you should not only respond to the terrible service complaint. You want the customer to feel valued and listened to, so responding to all of their issues is extremely important in maintaining a good customer relationship.
2. Include their name in the response (if possible)
Including the customer’s name in your response to their complaint is a great way of personalizing your message to them and making them feel important. This is not always possible however, for example if a customer’s username is “Gladiator 97,” their first name is most likely not Gladiator, and therefore you should not include any name in the response.
3. Portray a positive outlook on their feedback
You do not want to sound like you are annoyed that they gave you a negative review. Although the customer may be frustrated with your company, they are helping you improve your business by giving you feedback on where you could improve. You should always thank them for writing the review, for example you may write: “Thank you so much for your feedback, we value your business with us..” or “Thank you for taking the time to inform us of your experience, we love receiving customer feedback and are constantly working to improve our customer service..”
4. Acknowledge the difference in perceptions
Negative reviews can be extremely frustrating because on most occasions, the customer is going to exaggerate the issue and make it appear worse than it was in reality. No matter how frustrating this may be, you have to remain the bigger person and express your concern rather than argue the issue with them. Remember, you are not only responding to the customer who wrote the negative review, but to every other person who may read the review and response when looking at your company’s reviews. Being the bigger person and responding as appropriately as possible to your customers’ reviews will benefit your company’s overall image in the long run.
5. Actually look into their issue
As stated before, receiving negative reviews is less of a threat, but more an opportunity to improve your customer service and relationships. If the customer is complaining of a bad experience with an employee, or quality of a product your business carries, it is your responsibility as a company owner to take the time to look into the issue and insure it is resolved and will not reoccur.
I know one thing that all business owners have in common… They HATE a bad review.
While many clients use our Review Manager™ system to direct positive reviews online, and negative reviews to a private email, some customers still find their way to the public review sites with a bad review.
The importance of responding to reviews:
It is important to respond to all reviews, both positive and negative, which we do for our clients, but one of our clients took matters into his own hands and found incredible results.
Bobby LeRose, owner of Bobby Q’s Cue & Co. in Norwalk CT hates reviews more than most business owners, feeling they were often unfounded and harsher than they needed to be. Many times wanting to “lash out” at the reviewer, which is never a good idea, he agreed to allow the MaxExposure Team to handle his review responses, which took the emotion out of the process for him.
After we responded, he randomly did some research, to find out why the review was so bad. In the process, he would find the reviewer’s name from their credit card info or on social media platforms such as Facebook, noticing that many times they would have “a mutual friend” (most restaurateurs know someone who knows someone you know) and then in an attempt to win them back, he reached out to them privately via direct message through Facebook.
Instead of reacting with an equally negative response, Bobby left them an apology for their situation and a very polite invitation to connect with him personally, to make whatever the issue was “right”. In some cases, he called the customer and spoke with them live online.
The response has been phenomenal…
In all cases (and there have only been a few), the reviews were either deleted all together, or changed from 1 star to 5 stars, with updated comments sharing their pleasure and surprise that an owner would take the time to reach out personally. The end result was a happy customer and a better star rating on sites like Yelp and Facebook.
Regardless of your business, reviews are here to stay. They are necessary today for customers to know more about you. How we respond to them, and the best way to handle them, is critical to any business in the “New Economy” of online consumer engagement. Bobby Q’s has found a way to make them right, and protect his excellent reputation online.
If you want more information on our Review Manger™ System or Review Response Program, contact me at www.MaxExposureSocialMedia.com/Joe-Grushkin
About the Author:
Joe Grushkin is a serial entrepreneur for over 35 years. Currently, as the CEO, President and Founder of MaxExposure Social Media, the premier Social Media & Reputation Management Firm on North America, he is growing the business with effective leadership skills and developing a management team to lead in the future. MaxExposure assists small and media sized local businesses in over 80 industries. More information is available at www.MaxExposureSocialMedia.com