We live in a digital world. Your customers will be posting their pictures and opinions of you on Instagram, Google, Yelp, Facebook, and more! While we hope that everyone is a fan, it's easy to have issues (or unhappy customers) who can hurt your reputation and influence whether future customers frequent you - or your competition.
Even though it's time consuming and sometimes no fun at all, it's very important to protect your online reputation. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of your game:
1/ DON'T offer free items to make the problem go away. It's easy to respond to a negative review with an offer for a free beverage, meal, heck, anything to make the customer happy. But it's a much better idea to find out WHAT the problem was and try to fix the issue and apologize (if warranted). That way, you are improving the success of your business and guarding against future (false) negative reviews from folks looking for a freebie.
2/ DON'T ignore negative commentary. Even though it's no fun, it's very important to respond to unhappy customers online. There may be an easy fix to the problem, and even if someone really 'dropped the ball' on food or service, at least by responding you are showing your dedication to the customer and that it's important for them to have a good visit. Avoid long, drawn out public conversations and provide a phone number or email for follow up, and make sure to get to the bottom of their issues whenever possible.
3/ DO respond to positive commentary. A 5 star review is a wonderful thing to have. Make sure to take a moment to say thank you when someone goes out of their way to say something nice about your business! I simple 'thank you' goes a long way and helps to reinforce the positive relationship.
4/ DO Know your rights and manage your online presence. If someone is being unnecessarily vulgar, abusive, or even works for your competition and is writing false reviews, you have every right to flag and remove them . Get to know the terms of service for Yelp, Google, and Open Table so that you can flag anything that doesn't belong or is dishonest. It's also important to find out where your customers are talking about you - stay on top of social media trends and monitor your restaurant pages across as many sites as your customers do to ensure that you don't miss the conversation.
5/ DO encourage people to talk about you! Most of your customers are biggest fans - that's why they are in your restaurant! Engage these people by letting them know your Instagram handle and other social media presences, as well as asking them to review you. By asking for reviews, you'll ensure that the happy people take some time to write about you: unhappy people are more likely to take to the internet if they feel the need to report an issue. And of course, encourage your front of the house staff to ask for feedback often so that any problems can be fixed (hopefully) before they make their way online.