Your restaurant’s website is just the first step in an online marketing strategy. To capture as much business as possible, you should manage your restaurant’s online presence on review sites and social media. However, these platforms can be a double-edged sword. When you invite customers to interact with you over the internet, you open yourself up to their honest opinions, both good and bad. It’s inevitable that you’ll receive some negative feedback. Use these tips to turn bad reviews into better customer service – and more revenue.


Manage Your Restaurant’s Online Presence

When you start building an online presence, make sure to respond to every comment you receive. Engaging with your guests online shows them you care about their experience. Over time, this can go a long way toward improving their opinions of your business. For example, offering a deal to dissatisfied guests has two clear benefits. First of all, it shows customers that their opinions matter. You’re working to improve service, instead of sweeping their bad experience under the rug. Second, this tactic makes guests more likely to return to your restaurant a second time.  And even if they don’t, you can honestly show everyone online that you’ve done all you can.

Guests love to receive personalized service, and by responding to comments, you can connect with them on a deeper level. Use each review as an opportunity to give them the experience they crave, whether they’re sitting at a table or typing to you from a far-away desk.


Contained Conversations

It’s so much easier to express anger online. Whether they’re interacting on a review site or social media, people are much less shy about expressing their opinions when they’re safely behind a computer. For this reason, bad reviews can quickly turn into public arguments, and before you know it you’re dealing with a marketing snafu.

So how do you respond to upset customers kindly and diplomatically? It’s important to keep public conversations short and sweet when you manage your restaurant’s online presence. If they respond more with more than two comments, it’s a good idea to switch to direct messages. You can even publicly offer to speak to them in private. From that point on, if they keep responding, anyone following along can tell that you’re doing your best. Make them feel heard, and give them opportunities to voice concerns and ask for help. But avoid airing your dirty laundry in front of other loyal guests.


Deal Them In

If a guest cares enough to write a bad review, they’re looking for a resolution. In some cases, the only closure they want is the conversation itself. For others, however, they’d be happier to receive a deal or a discount on their next visit. The cost of a coffee or an appetizer is much lower than the cost of losing their business entirely.

When you’re calculating the price of these special deals, take into account the ripple effect of bad experiences. Word of mouth is the most effective marketing strategy, and this can work for you or against you. Lose one guest, and you risk losing the business of that person’s friends and family. By maintaining guest loyalty, you encourage once-unhappy customers to share their stories with everyone they know.

As you’re managing your restaurant’s online presence, make sure you cultivate the unique voice of your restaurant. Every word you write is a chance to build your brand. For example, the voice of a casual burger joint might be different from the voice of a wine bar. Take every bad review as a marketing opportunity, and you’ll set yourself up for success and continued guest satisfaction. 

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