How to Respond to Negative Feedback on Social Media

restaurant review

It’s a Monday and you are reviewing the weekend. It was busy and from all indications you think that you’ll chalk it up to a success. As you are perusing social media you do a random search of your restaurant’s name and begin to read the most scathing description of terrible food and inept service that you have ever seen. How you handle it may have a long term effect on your business so take a few deep breaths before you do anything.

Social Media

Social media is your friend, or it can be. It is basically free advertising that allows you to reach thousands of people everyday. Word of mouth advertising has always been the best way to bring in new customers and social media has taken it to a new level. People regularly take images of their plates and publish them to Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other social media sites. An excellent review on Yelp or Twitter can make you the most popular spot in town and increase traffic in a big way. The flip side of that is a bad review can cause a serious drop in traffic.

And God help you if the lighting in the dining room causes the guacamole to have a weird color.

Keep Track of What People Are Saying

By doing a regular search for your restaurant name on Google, or #[your name] on Twitter you can stop a potential problem from becoming a nightmare. You should be doing web and social media searches a minimum of three times a week — every day is better. Copy and paste any comments you find into a file, separating the good reviews from the bad reviews.  Looking over the good reviews tells you what people like, how the new dish went over, or if you should keep your house margarita on the menu.

At the same time the negative reviews tell you things, too. Are there several negative comments about a particular server?  Is one of your dishes constantly being complained about on Twitter? All of the information you get can be used to help you improve your service as well as your menu.

Have a Policy

Do you have a policy for handle negative feedback on social media?

When you read negative comments about your restaurant or your food the immediate reaction is usually painful and intense. You’ll want to fire back a volley of defensive statements sprinkled with a few angry comments of your own. After all, you pour your heart and soul into the restaurant every day. How dare someone not like it?

This can totally ruin your business and that’s not an exaggeration.

A policy for dealing with negative reviews should be in place for this very reason. A policy is your safeguard against over-reacting and making a bad situation worse. In fact, a good policy can potentially turn that bad situation into something positive and ultimately positive feedback that will bring plenty of new customers to your business. When you have a plan in place you don’t respond out of anger.

Negative Feedback? Here’s What You Do

First of all, don’t respond immediately no matter what is said and no matter how much you want to. You need to be professional in your response. When you are calm then you can contact the unhappy guest and get the story. If it’s on Twitter it might look something like this —

Dissatisfied: The food at YourCafe was horrible last night and the service sucked!

You: @Dissatisfied, I am sorry to hear that. I’d like to hear more about your experience. Message me.

At that point you will hopefully hear from Dissatisfied and figure out what the problem was, offer a free dessert or free meal depending on the severity of it and end up with a happy customer that writes how wonderful your customer service is.

That’s a win-win situation.

At the very least you will get some feedback on things you need to look into a little more. Always have the attitude of where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If someone complains be sure to take it seriously because there may be a problem that you aren’t seeing.

Handling negative feedback correctly can help you build your business and create a loyal customer base.

photo credit: djjewelz via photopin cc

- Marye Audet

Marye Audet is an author, freelance writer, and editor. Cooking, baking, and recipe development have been a major part of her life since she baked her first loaf of bread at age 13. Luckily, with a husband, eight children, a son in law, and three grandchildren she has enough test-tasters to handle the steady stream of experiments that come from her kitchen.

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