Negative comments and reviews are a business’s worst nightmare. You work hard to ensure that your business is running smoothly and the last thing you need is to deal with online ranting.

You can hide in the kitchen all you like, but you can’t escape from the age of instant opinions. Negative reviews and comments can actually offer your business the opportunity to demonstrate how considerable and accommodating it is. So roll up your sleeves and let’s get to work.

How patrons perceive food advertising

The analysis in this QSR report shows that patrons are less impressed by food advertising (32.7%) than the product itself (27.2%). The criticism ranges from false advertising and the ad’s inappropriateness. Make sure you conduct regular reviews on your advertising to ensure you’re not putting money into something that’s not working.

This is a marked trend in the quick-service industry. But the opposite is true for more high-end restaurants where patrons pay more attention to the dishes. In this case, you need to keep tabs on their feedback. Did you change the menu recently and are hearing several complaints about a dish that patrons didn’t want to be removed? Then bring it back.

Watch your social feeds closely or ask your community manager to do this. Some comments will slip through the cracks. If you just search your restaurant’s name (some won’t tag you), you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find. Besides a quick search on all social platforms, there are many tools available online to help you monitor the discussion about your brand.

Your persistence and dedication will be acknowledged if you respond to all comments be they positive or negative. If patrons notice that your online customer service is excellent, you will gain their trust and ultimately increase your revenue.

Key takeaways from the movie, Chef

In the movie, Chef Casper doesn’t take too kindly to a food critic’s negative review and voices his displeasure via Twitter and in person – leading to plenty of negative publicity. Critics are not going away anytime soon. The only way to handle a similar situation is not to react emotionally and to take responsibility for your guest’s experiences. Apologise and invite them back for another meal at your restaurant.

Apologies beforehand for the spoilers if you haven’t seen the movie yet. But later in the movie, Chef Casper starts operating an El Jefe food truck. His son promotes it on social media, showing the team’s everyday life. This gives the business personality and it soon gains popularity. His son promotes the truck by letting followers know about events and appearances in different cities as the truck travels. This illustrates the power of social media. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, but you need to have a strategy in place and to be consistent.

How to respond to negative reviews

Negative reviews left unattended leave an unfavourable lasting impression of your business. The quicker you accept that the review is out there, the sooner you can respond to it – and responding to it correctly is extremely important. Your first instinct when reading the review would be to reply quickly to get it over with. But don’t be hasty with this, go through the review carefully.

This will help you get to the root of the incident, what happened and who was involved. Ensure that there will be further investigations into the matter and state your intentions on rectifying it. Try to make it up to the client. If they refuse your offer, then you’ve done all that you can. The point is to show other potential patrons that you take their opinions very seriously. Do not resort to using canned messages. You should really pay attention to what the guest is saying.

To get a better handle on the digital marketing of your restaurant, read our e-book, The definitive 21st-century restaurant playbook.

Author : Rudi Badenhorst