How to Combat Negative Online Reviews For Your Foodservice Business
The critical role of online reviews
How to respond to and combat negative online reviews
- Check the Validity - Before you address the negative review in question, you should first ensure that the review is in fact from a verified customer. Ensure that the date/time of the complaint adds up, that the details seem to be at least partially factual, and that the review in question is legitimate. Sometimes negative reviews are posted by competing businesses in an attempt to discredit your establishment, so checking that they are in fact valid can help you recognize these unfortunate dirty tricks and report them to the appropriate platform.
- Respond - Always respond promptly and courteously to negative reviews online, even if the accusations or criticism is completely ridiculous. Not responding to negative reviews will alert other users that the criticisms may hold weight, and will cause them to form negative perceptions of your business. Being quick to respond and using empathy whenever it’s appropriate can cause negative reviewers to edit or remove their reviews.
- Talk to the Reviewer - Taking it offline and meeting with the reviewer through email, instant messaging, or a chat on the phone can give you a chance to address the review head on, and gives you the opportunity to rectify the situation.
- Don’t be a Doormat - Responding courteously doesn’t mean that you are letting the negative reviewer walk all over you. Negative reviews can arise from misunderstandings or when a customer is not aware of business policies and practices. When you know for a fact that you are in the right, it’s important to clarify and explain your side of the story and articulate why the reviewer may be wrong - this will help to reduce the risk of having other users take the side of the negative reviewer.
- Review the Complaint - Even when negative reviews are outrageous, there’s a chance that they contain some measure of truth. It’s important that you determine what, if anything, about the review is true, and what you can do to change or remedy the problem. Negative reviews can often be used as a learning experience for business owners in this way, helping you to pivot or adapt to customer needs and reduce the chances of future negative reviews.
- Don’t Feed the Trolls - With the internet being largely anonymous, there’s a chance you may attract the attention of trolls looking to antagonize your business for the sake of maliciousness. If you suspect that your business has been the target of troll reviews or fake reviews, just report them on the appropriate platform and move on with your day. There are online platforms dedicated to recognizing fake reviews, this may be worth looking into if you are the victim of falsified reviews.
Encourage customers to leave positive reviews