review on ipad vector

How to manage Negative Online Reviews

With the numerous ways your venue can be reviewed always increasing and future customers relying on these written testimonials as credible reasons to attend your venue or not it is important to take control and manage your presence online, especially when it comes to negative online reviews. 

The platforms these reviews are across is countless, there are things like Yelp, Trip Advisor and Zomato, automatically generated pages and there is to the social media pages and forums so it can make for a hard time to stay on top of all this feedback.

So the first step is to take ownership of all these profiles so you can see what is being said about your venue, since a lot of the time the reviews can be mixed or sometimes they can be bad.

Although negative reviews (1 or 2 stars) make up only a small portion of comments that are posted they can still have a dramatic impact for venue owners and operators. 

So things to keep in mind, in this industry you are not going to be able to keep everyone happy, some people are serial complainers and sometimes you may not always be on your “A” game because, face it, mistakes happen.  So this is where you need to evaluate reviews and establish which are genuine concerns and areas you could improve, those that are simple complaints and others that could be just someone nit picking everything about your venue.

Therefore the argument does remain about the reliability of these reviews, when you take these factors into consideration, but managing them effectively helps your image, credible or not. 

Tips to manage Negative Reviews

First step is to cool down

Many business owners will get upset or even angry when they read a bad review about their product or service, which is quite natural. But it is important to stay calm and cool down before even thinking about a response.  Take a breath and don’t let your emotions fuel an instant reply that can prove even more damaging to your reputation than just the review alone.  Try and see the positive within the review and look to use it as an educational tool and try to work it in your favour.   

Determine whether to respond

Although, when you see a bad review, your first impulse may be to let the world know why the reviewer or comments are wrong, but sometimes there are reviews that don’t even warrant a response. This is where you need to distinguish the genuine reviews and concerns from those that could be made by someone who finds a thrill in complaining about everything.  Here is where you need to keep in mind that some reviews are just too ridiculous to even begin to respond to, and most customers will be able to tell that as well.  For example, a review may come through written entirely in CAPS and makes little to sense at all, so responding could have very little difference what so ever. Of course it is best to try and respond and maybe take the response privately, but sometimes you need to make a judgement call and work out if perhaps it’s just an online bully seeking attention.

coffee man ipad
Crafting your response

After you have taken a deep breath and evaluated the reviews left behind by customers it is time to craft an appropriate response.

Responding to the glowing reviews is easy, rewarding and can increase your customer loyalty as it establishes a high level of customer service with these individual interactions. 

But developing a suitable response to the haters can be a little more challenging.

As all of these interactions are public, there are things you need to avoid so you don’t damage your name further.  Never respond in the same manner as to which the review was written, avoid aggression and always be polite and constructive.  If you do your research on the complaint at hand you may find they have a valid point about your venue and this is your opportunity to apologise and try to solve the issue.  If you have found that the customer is prone to reviews like this then you may find it’s best to respond privately, and work to resolve it without the public eye. 

If you are resolving the issue on a private channel, once an agreement has been reached it is beneficial to update the review so that future readers can see that the issue was cleared up and the customer was satisfied. 

Respond ASAP

While it is necessary that you research about what happened to receive such a negative review, it is also essential to get it handled quickly.  According to People Claim 95% of unhappy customers will return if an issue is resolved quickly and efficiently, so ensuring your response is timely is important.  If you have a thoroughly disappointed customer it is best to confront the issue as early as you can, otherwise the ranting and raving may continue as they stew over their experience. 

You can’t win ‘em all

It is a growing trend that people will write these negative reviews in the hope of getting a refund or even a free meal as compensation, and sometimes it’s just the fact that they have had a bad day and choose to take it out on you. Bad reviews are always going to happen, you can not always control it, what you can control is your response.  So making sure that you respond in an appropriate manner taking in to consideration all the previous points is the best way to work the review.  Therefore don’t dwell on the reviews, just keep in mind, you can’t win them all. 

With the growing social media presence in our society, there will always be bad press, whether legitimate or coming from an online troll, but it is in the way you handle it that determines its effect on your business.

Some negative reviews can be avoidable, having your staff efficiently trained with your workflows and your point of sale system helps.  If you are a new venue, starting with a soft opening is another great way to test and make sure when you are open to the public, minor hiccups don't cause a flurry of keyboard warriors to descend upon your social media.