How to respond to negative online feedback

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Should we respond to negative comments on review sites and social media?



The short answer is yes, but with a strategy. It used to be that guests communicated bad experiences privately to the server or manager, or to a select group of friends and family. With Web 2.0, everyone can post his or her review to the world—even before dessert is served.

“Many people ask how to get involved in social media,” says David Toth of Worksmart Integrated Marketing in Cleveland.  “[Use review sites to]  listen to your customers, because they are talking. Then develop a strategy with your team to respond.”  

Toth recommends responding publicly to concerns to let your guests know their voices are heard and that the operation values their business. For example, “This is Jon, the chef-manager. I’m really sorry to hear that your food took too long to arrive and wasn’t at the proper temperature.  We’re constantly working to improve our system and value your feedback.” Then, via a private message to the guest, the operation can offer a discount, free appetizer or other incentive to get their business back.  The same strategy can be used to publicly thank positive reviewers—and let them know their next dessert is on the house.

For future commenters, knowing they aren’t typing into a vacuum, but sharing their opinions with a real management team who cares what they write, may help minimize the venom and make online feedback constructive opportunities for great service.

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