Ratings & Reviews: Make Time to Respond to Your Most Loyal Supporters and Harshest Critics this Holiday


Listings Page w Reviews2

Online Ratings and Reviews have received a lot of media attention in recent years, with most of the stories and articles discussing the veracity of the information being provided by “user” ratings and reviews. Reviews come from all over the internet now, not only from dedicated customer review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Restaurant.com, but also from websites for online retailers and the brick and mortar stores. Although distrust in user ratings and reviews might be more prevalent today than it was five or ten years ago, a proper response to these comments is still important to the future success of your business.

Regardless of how cautious they may be of user ratings and reviews, consumers still simply want to know, “Is this review credible and does it apply to my situation?” Take time this holiday to respond and react to your customers’ comments so future potential patrons will know which reviews are worth reading into and which aren’t.

What Not to Do In Response to Negative User Reviews

Here are some things that can come to mind when your restaurant receives a negative user review. It’s important to think your actions through, however, and you should always be wary of these reactions:

–          Post fake reviews: the sting of reading something negative about your business will be short-lived. Resist the temptation to post positive feedback yourself or have your employees do it for you.

–          Pay others for fake reviews: Bribery is not a becoming trait for businesses, even if those who are offered bribes are initially responsive to the idea. 

–          Hire a reputation management firm to write positive reviews: These reviews are often the easiest to tag as fake or disingenuous. Sometimes, the reviewer hasn’t even visited or seen the restaurant, and he or she might even reside in a completely different country altogether.


Things You Should Do In Response to Negative Reviews

Remember, it’s more constructive to treat negative reviews as suggestions for your company’s future success rather than gripes from your clientele. Here are some ways to treat these suggestions:

–          Respond: You should actively monitor the sites where reviewers are posting about your business and be prepared to respond to both positive and negative critiques.

–          Embrace your negative review: Take ownership of your business and realize that the customer experience is what’s most important for the future success of your business. Build goodwill with your most loyal supporters and your harshest critics. This will incentivize your active supporters to stay with your business and it might even change the perception of your business in the eyes of those who weren’t impressed or expressed concerns.

–          Be nice, don’t get personal: Remember to say thanks to your reviewers and respond to their needs appropriately. There is a fine line between being professional and being generic, however. Be careful not to present the outward image that your business is being run by PR firms, image consultants or your sales staff.

–          Keep it short & sweet: Don’t overwhelm the customer you’re responding to or other potential customers with your whole side of the story. Address their needs the simplest way possible and resist the need to have the last say in a discussion.

–          Encourage Feedback: Show that your business values feedback and takes customers’ opinions very seriously. Without an active dialogue, you could lose touch with your customer base and their needs as a consumer.