The statistics show that positive reviews affect your restaurant’s bottom line. Consider a Harvard business study that shows that each additional ratings star on a Yelp review could affect your revenue anywhere from a 5% – 9%.
With that said, the table is set, the silverware is shiny, the glasses are spotless, the food has been meticulously prepared to standards that would make a Michelin Star blush, but somehow the universe has conspired against you and you are now the very unhappy recipient of a scathing one star review.
Relax, a bad review is no reason to feel that your restaurant is being held hostage. In fact, this is the time to make a difference and change the tide of the review.
You may be asking, “Why is Yelp so important?” And “Why do online reviews matter?” We are here to give you 11 million reasons why restaurant reviews matter.
11 million people use Yelp, making it one of the biggest drivers of restaurant traffic and if you’ve got bad reviews, your traffic is going to suffer.
Why You Should Respond
Even restaurants that create exceptional food and deliver stellar customer experiences receive less-than-glowing reviews on occasion.
Sometimes the feedback is justified, and you need to OWN IT, but sometimes it isn’t justified. Sometimes people just want to complain. You need to respond either way.
How you respond is even more important. While a negative Yelp review can impact your restaurant, if you respond to it sympathetically, with a sincere desire to make the situation better, you can get past the bad review and turn it into a positive one.
Because Yelp is the review site of choice for many restaurant-goers, we ask you to consider that not all bad reviews are bad for business. You might even find that a negative review is an opportunity for your restaurant to shine.
Tips On How To Respond
As you read the bad review, your blood boils, and your first reaction is to type your own scathing, negative response.
Your internal voice may be thinking, “I remember you! You were rude and completely socially unacceptable – you should not be seen in public.”
While all of that may be TRUE avoid this at all costs.
Even if the review is completely wrong, this is an opportunity for you to show your customer service prowess, finesse, and decorum.
If you are too angry to answer the review, you have two choices:
-Step back and wait a little bit
-Hand it off to a trusted staff member
The trick is to never answer a negative review until you’ve calmed down and can answer it from an objective place.
One of the worst things you can do when answering a negative review is to respond argumentatively. We get it, this is a perfectly normal human response. Your inner voice wants revenge for the perceived wrong, but we urge you to resist the temptation to retaliate.
Furthermore, resist the urge to tell your customer why they are wrong, and their review is incorrect.
While we recognize that your first instinct is to protect and defend your restaurant, remember your bigger digital audience.
Negativity versus negativity won’t win you customers.
Listen to the Reviewer
Once you’ve gotten past your initial anger and instinct to protect your restaurant, step back and listen to what the reviewer wrote. There is a kernel of “TRUTH” in every negative review, no matter how wrong you think it is.
The customer had a reason for writing it, right or wrong, and it can provide insight into an aspect of your business you didn’t know about.
Perhaps there is something you can do to change a process, procedure, or a menu item?
If you read the review objectively, you may realize other customers might have the same problem, and you’ve got room for improvement and to potentially identify similar patterns.
Don’t let the reviewer be your enemy. Use the negative Yelp review as a time to improve and make your restaurant even better.
You and your staff should be on the relentless pursuit of the answer to one question and ONLY ONE QUESTION: What does better look like?
Respond Like a Michelin Star Restaurateur
When you’re ready to respond to the review, be very professional. Consider yourself the neutral zone.
With Yelp, you can respond privately or publicly. When you respond privately, it’s like sending a personal email to the reviewer. When you respond publicly, your comment shows up right under the user’s review and can be seen by anyone.
The public route is a bonus for your restaurant in two ways:
-You address the reviewer’s feedback publicly which is helpful to others who may have had the same problem.
-You show your Internet audience you can handle conflict, and you care enough to resolve the issue.
We recommend responding publicly. This will address your broader internet audience.
In private and public replies, address your customer by name and thank them for their business. Apologize for their negative experiences and offer a constructive reply. This is your opportunity to answer that ONE QUESTION: What does better look like?
You can minimize the fallout from a bad Yelp review by responding calmly, publicly, and effectively. The key here is to preserve your public image, minimize the broader consequences and hopefully win your customer back.
Keep Your Message Consistent
Whether you have two negative reviews or five, it’s key to respond to each review with the same tact, prowess, finesse, and decorum.
Be active on your Yelp listing and respond in a timely fashion to each review. It’s a good rule of thumb to even respond to the positive reviews with at least a thank you.
Be a Restaurant People Can Trust
Negative reviews are unavoidable. It’s what you do with them that defines who you are as a restaurant. Ignoring negative reviews could have a big impact on your image.
Be the restaurant people can trust by responding to negative reviews calmly and with compassion. This will show your customers you are taking the time and effort to improve your restaurant.
Take the time to evaluate every review and initiate steps needed to respond. Your customers will feel valued when you do this well.
Yelp can sway the customers’ opinion of your restaurant. With more than 102 million reviews posted you can’t afford to ignore the negative feedback from your customers.
Here are the keys to surviving the fallout from a bad Yelp review and increasing customer trust in your restaurant:
-Pay attention to your customers
-Learn and grow from their feedback
Yelp is the perfect avenue for your restaurant marketing. This is where people come to find out about your restaurant. This alone should be the number one reason why you must embrace the opportunity to turn a negative review into a moment of reflection and improvement.
By Juan Vega