For years restaurants have tread carefully in regards to critical online restaurant reviews. The ones where the Average Joe slams a restaurant for grievances that are sometimes justified, sometimes not. But times have changed.
Recently some of the most popular social media posts regarding restaurants have been about restaurants answering back. Let's talk about a couple of cases and how they handled the situation in an effective way.
In the first case a customer in a restaurant in the United Kingdom sat down with a friend at a table. While her friend did order food, the complaining customer only ordered hot water and a lemon and then used her own tea bag to make tea. She was charged £2 ($2.87) for it. She was not happy and said so in a scathing online review.
The restaurant manager handled the situation in an adept way. He explained that when a table is occupied a guest is not only paying for the food or drink they are consuming but also for all of the related charges of running a restaurant. Their was the wages for the server who took care of their table. There was the cost of the cleaning of the tablecloth and dishware that was used as well as other overhead costs such as utilities, etc. He ended with stating that, "It's actually the facilities that cost the money, far more so than the ingredients."
This manager gained a lot of respect from others, especially those with experience in the hospitality industry. He answered in a polite, forthright way by explaining that there is more to running a restaurant than the price of the food.
In another case, the complaining customer mentioned that it wasn't the spot to eat or get a quiet drink because it was noisy and the food was bad.
The owner of this restaurant took the time to research the customer's other reviews and found that she typically ate at quiet coffee shops or at fine dining establishments. He then pointed out to her that his restaurant's profile clearly stated that their ambiance was "divey" and their noise level was "loud", so her expectations for his establishment should have been at the appropriate level.
It's important to respond critical reviews to show readers that you are engaged with your clientele. The key is to do so tactfully in a way that others will understand your side and respect your response. Stay away from the negative and stooping down to their level. Handled correctly, you'll find you'll win more customers while ridding yourself of the bad one.
There are some restaurant apps that allow customers to review restaurants, but the review is directly sent to management and not posted to public sites, allowing management to work with customers directly if needed.
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