Managing restaurant reviews is a pain, but they can impact your business, and consumers read them, so they’re here to stay. Here’s how to handle even the worst of them.
Between Google and Yelp — managing your restaurant reviews can be blood boiling. Unless you have a passion for public relations, you’d likely prefer to go on living like Yelp, and Google Reviews never existed. Unfortunately, ignoring these reviews is not always possible or the best for business. Especially in situations like the ones making recent headlines, where scammers are extorting San Francisco Michelin star restaurants with single-starred ratings.
Whether you like it or not, it’s best to own your restaurant review game and learn how to interact with your customers to address any real issues, generate brand loyalty, and retain a solid reputation. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when managing your reviews.
Create a process for responding to reviews.
Having a process to guide you and your managers in responding to your restaurant reviews is the best way to ensure you’re not saying anything you’d regret in the heat of the moment.
Create a policy for everything from how often you want to check in on your reviews, reporting positive and negative feedback, and escalating specific customer situations that need to be addressed immediately. This way, you keep yourself and others accountable and ensure that your responses are consistent.
Respond to both positive and negative reviews.
Online reviews are a great way to increase customer loyalty, gain potential customers, and win back those you’re on the verge of losing. Responding to both positive and negative reviews is vital.
When responding, highlight the positive feedback — even in negative comments! While it’s not always true, even negative comments can have at least one positive. For instance, if someone said the food took longer than they expected, but their server was very nice — start your response by highlighting how happy you are they had a good experience with their server, and then address the negative. This turns the focus of the comment on the good while still validating the customer’s concerns.
Be intentional and genuine in your responses.
There are many online templates to help guide your response to reviews. These are great to refer to as you begin generating your process — but remember to be genuine and intentional. Craft a message that aligns with your brand and customer service methodology.
As mentioned above, interacting with your reviews is a great customer relationship tool — so let your personality and brand voice shine. You don’t want to repeatedly pump out the same response — it displays a lack of genuine concern or enthusiasm. Giving each review the attention it deserves endears you to your customers.
Complete your Yelp and Google business accounts.
Part of interacting with your restaurant reviews is owning the space they live in. Make sure to build your Yelp page and Google My Business account. While it’s not guaranteed to happen, yelpers or other customers can suggest edits to both your Yelp and Google business accounts. Whether or not these edits pass the platform’s moderation process, you should keep total control of your accounts to ensure accurate information.
Set up your business account by listing current hours, menus, and photos. Review your business information periodically, so there’s no misleading or false information. If your hours or menu often change, note in your description that customers should follow your social media for more accurate information.
Catch and report fraud as soon as possible.
Getting Google or Yelp to remove reviews can be extremely difficult, but if your business is targeted by fraudulent reviews, spam, or retaliation (competition, ex-employee, etc.), report it immediately.
Yelp and Google have their own policies regarding removing content, and anything you report will go through a moderator process. There are no guarantees that the reviews will be removed, but if there is any possibility, you might as well take it! You don’t want false reviews to impact your business and customer following.
Whether we like it or not — restaurant review platforms are here to stay. It’s better to learn how to fight the headache with a plan that turns Yelp or Google into a profitable and successful customer retention tool. The power is in your hands, and with a bit of forethought and organization, you can own your online presence by fine-tuning your interaction with restaurant reviews.