​How should you handle negative online reviews?


​How should you handle negative online reviews?

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Before the digital revolution, newspaper journalists were solely responsible for reviewing restaurants. Their words would either entice or discourage diners and could potentially make or break a business. But the advent of social media and the online world means that any and every customer can now share their dining experiences with the world.

According to our panel of over 1000 Mystery Guests, 42% would be unlikely to visit a restaurant after reading a negative review online. 66% of guests also view a restaurants social media page before deciding whether to visit or not. So, while social media is undoubtedly a key promotional tool for operators, if you don’t manage negative reviews you could be driving business away.

Where to start?

Online reviews are not just restricted to social media, the growing importance of reputation management means that there are now many options for your guests to leave feedback about their experience. With 85% of consumers stating they trust online reviews as much a personal recommendation – this is an area, operators need to be monitoring.

The current industry leaders who are influencing whether guests choose to dine with you are TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google Reviews, with Google fast becoming the highest source in terms of volume, many of our clients are regularly receiving over 60% of their total review data from Google.

Putting a review strategy in place is a good place to start. Start by answering the following questions:

  • Are you going to monitor reviews?
  • How are you going to monitor your reviews?
  • Who will be responsible for monitoring?
  • Will you respond to every single review good or bad or is this not feasible for your business?
  • Will you offer all negative reviews a discount, hoping you get an opportunity to redeem yourself on their next visit?

Monitoring reviews

Monitoring all reviews across all sites is a big and time-consuming role and one of the main reasons operators don’t do this effectively. If you make the decision to monitor your online reviews then you need to be consistent – monitoring them one week and not the next is never going to give an accurate insight into how your guests perceive you or highlight opportunities for improvement that will drive your business forward.

Our new platform The Hub can pull ratings and comments by location from Google, Facebook and TripAdvisor, for your sites and your competitors too. In addition, it allows operators to see which sites are receiving the most reviews as well as which of these are positive, average and negative. Most importantly, operators can see all their reviews in one place, making it easier to keep on top of them and respond effectively.

Responding to reviews

If you have made the strategic decision not to reply to all reviews, then dealing with negative reviews should be top of your priority list.

42% of our diners confirmed that they would be unlikely to book a restaurant if there were negative reviews online. However, 86% said that if they could see that the review had been dealt with in a positive way by the operator, that this could change their mind and encourage them to book. This highlights the importance of being proactive and responding to negative reviews.

Operators who engage with guests that have had a negative experience and try to resolve issues, create an opportunity to turn a negative experience into a positive and show potential guests that they care are about the experience of theirs guests and ultimately that they value their custom and opinion.

For reviews where the guest will not accept an apology and continue to write negative comments, it is better for operators to politely ask the guest to get in touch with them and offer a way for this to happen.

Keeping on top of reviews

Once you have started monitoring and responding to reviews keep it going. Whether positive or negative, online reviews can have a strong influence over potential customers. By investing in a review strategy, you can turn bad reviews into a positive experience and show guests that you care. So please get in touch if you think we can help you.

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