Turning Around Negative Reviews To Boost Business

With 88% of consumers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, bad customer reviews may affect your restaurant’s business.

Convert those disgruntled customers into loyal patrons while boosting your business with these tips:

Take a Two-Pronged Approach

Monitor and manage online review sites regularly to resolve customer complaints on both public and private fronts.

  1. Public. Two leading reasons why customers write bad reviews are: to save others from the same negative experience, and to get an apology. Step up and offer a sincere apology to try wooing the customer back, and publicly prove you care about fixing the situation.
  2. Private. Take the conversation offline with the reviewer to address their specific concerns. Thank them for their input and explain how you are resolving their issue.Invite them to return so you can ensure their return visit is positive.

If all goes well, the reviewer might post a retraction. At the very least, you’ll be increasing direct engagement with reviews—which can “increase positive online sentiment” by 25% (eMarketer).

Choose Your Words Wisely

One poor experience can leave customers feeling cheated or disrespected. When dealing with disgruntled customers, your words and tones matter.

Be Honest. Own up to any mistakes. Try to offer solutions, not excuses. Always be specific to their individual issue. Avoid using cliché apologizes that deflect responsibility such as, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

Be Empathetic. Sometimes dissatisfaction stems from a policy or price point. Try to clarify your position but put yourself in the customer’s shoes to demonstrate you understand their feelings.

Be Diplomatic. It’s hard to be genial when someone is publicly criticizing you. But remember, grace under fire can often deflate an angry customer—and displays professionalism.

Go The Extra Mile

Experts in service recovery believe that the combination of apologizing and offering some sort of reparation yields the best results:

Refunds. Sometimes reviewers feel entitled to a refund. While this is not always appropriate, there are instances—such as errors in delivery orders—where refunding makes sense.

Freebies. To incentivize diners to give your restaurants another shot, sometimes a free appetizer, discount or promo code through Grubhub can do the trick.

Be Prompt…and Proactive

Studies show that responding promptly to negative reviews and experiences is critical:

Respond promptly: More than half of consumers that post a review/feedback expect a response within 7 days. Grubhub enables restaurants to do just that—even sooner. Just be sure to wait until you’ve had a chance to assess the situation and think about how best to reply.

Be Consistent: Respond promptly to good reviews also! This encourages more reviews which can increase your star rating (each star added can increase sales by 5-9%).

Simplify It: Make it easy for people leave review via social media. Also, Grubhub’s new ratings and review system allows customers to share and feedback, while giving restaurants helpful customer insight.

A bad review can be a gift in disguise—cluing you in on what 26 other customers may be experiencing silently!

Take advantage of the PR opportunity in front of you to not only win back these customers, but position your brand as a customer service champ.

Takeaway: Check out some examples of good responses to common customer reviews.

Image: Flickr