If they want to succeed in the digital age, restaurateurs must have the ability and willingness to manage their online reputations. To win the hearts of past and potential guests, consider the following guidelines for better online customer service.
Address complaints on every channel. Good customer service shouldn’t be limited to the table, telephone or email. These days, a tremendous amount of complaints appear on review and social media sites. Effective reputation management depends on finding and addressing these criticisms. Successful restaurants regularly scan Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Yelp. They also keep a watchful eye on local discussion boards, review sites and even chat-based tools such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. By replying to customer complaints wherever you find them, you can improve customer advocacy and head off potentially destructive threads.
Give timely replies. About a third of all complaints on social media never receive an answer. That’s a terrible business strategy that can lead to serious problems. Because negative sentiment can spread like wildfire, it’s important to address complaints as soon as you can. If you can’t respond to a customer complaint within an hour or two, consider hiring someone to monitor and maintain your restaurant’s social media presence.
Always stay positive. Restaurateurs are proud of their work, and rightfully so. It’s not easy pleasing hungry people, who are unaware of the daily challenges of running a restaurant. It takes tremendous commitment and passion to run a successful restaurant. That’s why it’s so easy to take negative comments personally. Unfortunately, this can lead to dangerous outcomes. Many times, restaurant owners refuse to respond to negative sentiment. Other times, they may respond angrily, attacking a customer in an attempt to defend the restaurant’s reputation. Before you even think of going tit-for-tat with a customer over a complaint, take a deep breath. Never respond to a negative comment when emotions are high. Instead, take some time to calm down and address the complaint with a simple, polite apology and a promise to take their concerns seriously.
Most restaurant owners regard complaints with disdain. In reality, negative feedback is an essential resource that can help you optimize for success. The vast majority of unsatisfied customers will never complain about a bad experience. They may say something to a few friends, but they will never publish a comment. When you do find negative feedback online, try viewing it as a gift. By creating a culture where all feedback is genuinely welcomed, you can perfect the dining experience and turn unhappy customers into helpful allies.