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How do you engage negative reviews?

I know there are a handful of review sites out there like yelp. I've read a lot of complaints by some owners not liking negative reviews.1. How do you engage customers who left bad feedback?2. What tools you wish was out there to help facilitate you and the customer? Would being able to reply back to the bad reviews help?

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  • Disclaimer: I am not a restaurant owner.

    However my feeling is that given the nature of reviews as inherently social tools, it is ALWAYS in a company's best interest to respond to both positive and negative reviews. The key is to be HONEST in your approach to responding to customers and to respond as quickly as possible. You may not be able to directly change the negative review, but if you respond to the criticism in a manner that people respond too you will be able to generate more positive buzz for you than the 1 negative comment hurt you.
  • As a representative of a restaurant supply company, when we receive negative comments or reviews of our website, I will contact the individual who left the comment and try to find out exactly what caused them to have the negative feelings toward our site. If it is something we did, we will try to rectify the situation and offer some type of compensations...although not necessarily monetary.

    If it is user error, we try to find out exactly what the person did and how we can decrease the likelihood of it happening to others in the future.

    It's always best to turn a negative review into a learning experience for both.
  • I'm the owner of a restaurant dining guide franchise and our restaurant guides like this one www.eatout.co.nz approach the whole reviews thing in a slightly different way. We have found the biggest problem with other review sites is once a review is posted it stays there seemly forever, even if the chef changes, the owners are new or the problem was actually fixed.

    Negative comments have the potential to ruin a restaurants reputation in seconds especially if it is not as constructive as it sometimes should be. People are so different, we all have our own opinions, every time you visit a restaurant you have a slightly different experience depending on whose working that day and everyone takes it differently.

    We encourage feedback, good and bad but only post the good on our site. We then automatically send the negative feedback directly to the restaurant so they may address the problem directly and hopefully fix whatever it was. Some say this is unfair, but unfair to who? Good restaurants sometimes have one bad day (we're not all perfect) and upset 1 person and now this comment prevents new diners from trying this restaurant? I can't see how this is fair can you?

    Thanks
    Sandra
    www.eatout-franchise.com
  • I think there are more tools that will help facilitate communication online. I noticed that Tripadvisor allows hotel or restaurant management to respond directly to reviews and have their reply appear alongside the negative review. I've seen quite a few hotels utilize this feature when guests post poor reviews, though I haven't come across many restaurants doing it yet.

    To respond, the restaurant manager goes to the Tripadvisor review in question, clicks a link and writes a response to the review in the form provided.

    This type of feature is helping to restore the balance of communication between customers, restaurants and the general public. When a potential customer sees that restaurant management has taken the time to read and respond to comments, it can help offset any negative perceptions from the review.
  • @ Susan - Thanks . I think these kinds of responses are why people are scared to give feedback because they don't know how the restaurateur would react . Some people just don't take criticism well but its part of running a business especially in restaurants where the competition is tough . Think about a food court in a mall, that is competition at its best .
  • Your site looks really useful. I find it hard to believe a restaurateur could respond as that one did to criticism that was constructive and designed to be helpful. I think it's his loss, and feel the future doesn't bode well for someone who can't listen to customer feedback presented as objectively as that one's was.
  • When a customer has left a bad review on a site it can cause damage because many more people see the the review and then other sites link to the review plus search engines like google cache the review .
    I think the main reason why people leave negative reviews is because they had no other way to communicate with the restaurant . I went to a restaurant yesterday and everything was great the waiter was good and I wanted to at least praise him but when I looked around there was no site or anything that suggested that they wanted my feedback . Nothing in the menu or table tents or receipt .

    A lot of people wont call a manager to complain especially if the restaurant is busy and the manager looks busy . People also generally don't like confrontation and they don't know how a restaurant manager will react to their feedback . See http://dinersfeedback.wordpress.com/2008/10/12/how-not-to-reply-to-...
    Restaurant operators can't respond to all the feedback on the internet because there are so many sites and each site has a different policy on how to communicate with diners .. As a matter of fact you should respond to good feedback and bad feedback .

    The best way to prevent this is to tell the diners that you want to hear from them and let them know where to go . Put stickers on table tents, drive thru windows, menus, restroom doors - anywhere that the diners can see . If a diner knows that they can come to you first with a problem, they will .

    Reviews are just one form of feedback . You have comment cards, surveys, phone feedback, person to person etc .. The most common is internet feedback . You have to give diners a way to give you internet feedback because that seems to be what they want to do and its the form that can damage you quickly ..

    In conclusion -
    Make it easy for diners to give you feedback .
    Let them know you want feedback .
    Tell them where to go to give you feedback .
    Respond to feedback .

    They wont bypass the recommended feedback way to go to a site that they know you won't see ..

    Anyway its going to get easier to just leave internet on the internet ..Look at this you tube feedback .
    This can bankrupt a business . Its been seen thousands of time http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JUPjGZV9ak
    • Cool site! When did you launch?
      • @ nick I just launched yesterday but I need restaurateurs to try it out .. I think its a better way of getting direct feedback .. Thanks
        • Did you code the site yourself or did you outsource it? I'm a programmer myself, so feel free to ask me if you need any help.
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