For over a decade, we have been choosing where to go based on mostly online reviews; just as the phrases “Google it" and “Yelp it” have gotten into our lives for acquiring realistic information about businesses around us. Of course, there are lots of alternatives to Yelp; like Tripadvisor, Google reviews, Facebook reviews, etc. However, the basics of these enterprises all depend on customer reviews. Now, if you are a business owner, we cannot emphasize enough on the importance of reviews. Your whole reputation is shaped by what your customers write about your business. Your potential new customers decide whether to try or not to try your place mostly by those reviews on various websites and apps. Evidently, no business yet received fully positive reviews, and there is no such thing called a perfect business. So sometimes, you get those nerve-wracking, stress-creating, harsh, negative reviews out of nowhere and we are here to help you to handle them as professionally and profitably as possible.
Buzztime’s 7A Formula
Just imagine yourself writing a review for a restaurant you are upset with. Would you feel okay if the response is an auto-message with a company name underneath? You would probably feel like the business is not taking you seriously enough. Responding to a negative review personally, in a genuine way, starting with the customer’s name and ending with yours makes your customer perceive your reaction more sincere.
You have to be in full control of the situation. That means only you or an assigned & trained employee should respond to the negative review. This way, your responses will be consistently in the same, required tone.
You will need some empathy skills for this one. Even though your customer’s negative review may have some untrue statements in it, the main thing to focus on is that he/she is somehow disappointed. It does not mean that you have to accept any guilt, but its important to show your customer that you truly value their feedback and are not replying only to defend or attack. You are responding to the review in hopes of clearing up any miscommunication, and making your customer feel valued.
Here comes the tough part. If your business is guilty about the customer’s dissatisfaction, then there is no second option but to take the full responsibility and admit that you did wrong. Just be careful about the word choices when you are accepting your guilt. For example, if the customer is complaining about the raw chicken you served, it is much better to change the word "raw" to "undercooked," which is more professional and sounds less offensive.
When you make a mistake, it is not enough to just accept it. You have to take action to prevent it from ever happening again. For instance, if a customer is complaining about how slow your bartender was in the negative review, you have to train that bartender to be more efficient so that no customer would ever make the same complaint again. It's also important to inform the guest that you have taken measures to remedy the situation. Make him/her believe that you are open to constructive criticism and improvement.
After you have acknowledged and taken action to the negative review, this is an opportunity to turn the unhappy customer's perception of your business into a positive one. One of the most common and successful ways is to offer a token or gesture to show that you are apologetic. A cocktail on the house, a discount on the tab, or a complimentary appetizer are examples of useful apology gifts. If you are absent at the time the customer arrives at your place, make sure your staff is aware of the situation and knows how to treat the customer.
Lastly, end your response with a further sign of how committed you are to this business by asking the customer if he/she has other ideas or suggestions. This is a perfect way to finish a professional response to a negative review because it shows that you handle hard situations with a calm, powerful, and skillful attitude.
The customer may or may not remove the negative review after your efforts. In both cases, you do not have to get stressed about anything after you handle it gracefully. Research shows that nearly 68% of customers only believe in the reviews if they see bad ones, too.