How to Avoid Bad Online Feedback from Unhappy Customers

You can’t keep all of your customers happy all the time, as every restaurant owner knows. But these days, social media has made it more difficult to get past a bad meal. Even a single bad review of your restaurant can have a significant negative impact on your restaurant sales: A 2011 Harvard Business Review study found that a one-star decrease in average customer ratings correlates to a 5 to 9 percent decline in revenues, and vice-versa.

Unfortunately, it’s very common for customers who feel like they’ve been slighted to take their grievances to social media. A 2013 Customer Rage Survey found that more than a third of customers share their negative opinions of businesses on platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Twitter.

So what can you do to combat bad online feedback, or even prevent unhappy customers from taking to the web to complain? Here are a few of the strategies shared by Software Advice writer Victoria Rossi on the Customer Service Investigator blog:

Give your guests tools to share their experiences before they leave your establishment. If you’re able to address your customers’ concerns before they head back home, they’re far less likely to leave negative feedback online. Often, they simply want to make sure they’ve been heard. Consider leaving feedback cards at the table, or even bring a tablet to the table so that you can ask customers to share their experiences on a mobile app.

Provide multiple easy channels to communicate with guests. Make sure to display your phone number and email address prominently on all of your marketing materials, so that customers know how to reach you. A “guest feedback” bulletin board is also a convenient way for guests to share both positive and negative comments.

Acknowledge your customer complaints immediately. If you wait to respond to a complaint, the customer may assume he’s not being listened to, and turn to an online review site to share his complaint. As soon as you receive a complaint, send a response, even if you aren’t able to address the problem or write a detailed explanation immediately. By telling the customer that you’ll look into the complaint and get back to him within several hours or days, he’ll know that he’s been heard and will be less likely to share his complaint elsewhere.

By making sure that your guests feel like their concerns are welcome and are being addressed, they are far less likely to take them to social media. Feedback apps like OwnerListens provide tools that streamline the feedback process. Truluck’s, a restaurant that provides customers with the chance to share their thoughts on a feedback app, has seen a 31 percent drop in online customer complaints since launching the feedback process. Show customers that you care, and they’ll reward you with glowing reviews instead of negative rants.

Image Credit: Luke Addison