Handling negative reviews in a digital economy

The Stone Grill is still on track for opening up as long as the government roadmap stays the course. In the meantime, we’re getting everything ready behind the scenes to make sure we continue delivering the superb service we are so well known for.

Which brings us nicely onto a subject dear to my heart. Handling negative reviews.

We don’t get many of them but we do get them occasionally. So how should you handle them?

Managing negative reviews

The first thing you should do when reading a negative review is not take it personally. Yes, we know its your business and your baby. But the reviewer isn’t attacking you personally, unless they are.

It isn’t personal. It’s all part of the business. It isn’t easy to let go of a negative review but you have to view them dispassionately in order to be able to do something about them.

Consider the motives

Most genuine complaints are for two main reasons, to stop someone else experiencing the same thing or to get an apology. If you always bear this in mind and deliver both of those things, you’ll be able to turn around 95% of any negativity.

Offer an apology and assure the customer it won’t happen again, either through retraining, changing a policy or something else. That way you have tackled the main motives people have when complaining.

Take it offline

If the complaint or reason for the negative review is more in-depth or complicated, offer your email address or phone number and offer to work with the customer to resolve the situation.

Not only does this prevent a flame war on a feedback forum or social network, it also shows the customer you care enough to want to help them. That alone can be enough to turn their opinion around.

Be honest

If you messed up, fess up. If a dish was cold or substandard, it may hurt but honesty prevails. Be honest, own up, apologise and move on. You can offer a free meal, free drinks, priority seating or other inducement to return if you like, but honesty really is the best policy.

Just be careful how you word things so you don’t open yourself up to further ridicule or liability!

Leave it an hour

If you read a negative review, never reply immediately. Leave it an hour, a shift or an entire day before you reply. It’s important to offer a timely reply but a late reply is always better than an angry one.

Give yourself time to calm, to view the customer’s position dispassionately and to be able to offer a resolution. That will be time well spent!

Show empathy

Show you understand the customer’s feelings even if you don’t agree with them. Use the same skills you learned front of house to put yourself in the shoes of the customer to understand their point.

You don’t have to agree with them and you are entirely free to justify your position politely, but showing a little empathy can immediately defuse the situation and turn it around.

Sometimes people just want to be listened to and showing a little empathy does just that.

How do you handle negative reviews? Have any tips to share?

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