Reputation Management: How to Prevent Negative Restaurant Reviews

By December 8, 2020 Blog
bad review from customer

Negative restaurant reviews are a concern for restaurant management — and they should be! The following statistics clearly outline the situation:

  • 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses.
  • Positive reviews make 68% of consumers more likely to patronize local businesses, while negative reviews deter 40% of consumers.
  • 91% of people that are 18-34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

A quick online search returns page after page of hits on what to do after your restaurant receives a negative review, but very little about what to do to prevent them. That’s what we’re going to explore here.

Why Bad Reviews?

Our first step is to understand why patrons post poor reviews – and it’s not trolling or the pursuit of free stuff. Instead, surveys and interviews have established two general reasons:

1. They’re trying to get attention – either yours or someone else’s.

Many reviewers have been quoted as saying they only leave bad reviews as a last resort, after they’ve tried everything else they can think of to get their issue resolved. They’ve usually already tried working their way up the authority chain at the location and have gotten no response to their frustration. In addition to this, as many as 75% of reviewers say they leave negative online feedback in order to warn off potential customers from repeating their bad experience.

2. They want you to fix broken processes.

In other instances, customers are honestly trying to contribute to the success of your operation. They’ve seen a problem serious enough to require a solution, and they hope to get it fixed because they see potential in your business and want it to thrive.

Tips for Preventing Negative Reviews

With these reasons in mind, the obvious answer to preventing negative reviews is to prioritize excellent customer service so that it is reflected not only in how you respond to feedback, but in every aspect of your business. Before we get into the operational solution, here are some quick reminders of what should be included in great customer service:

  1. Understand that your business is judged through every second of every customer interaction. Every physical location must be spotlessly clean and in line with current public health safety guidelines. Your employees must be consistently friendly, courteous and ready to answer any question about your service. Your digital presence must be easily understood at a glance and effortless to use. One negative interaction is enough to ruin the entire customer experience
  2. Your employees can defuse any number of potentially negative situations just by actively listening, acknowledging what they’re hearing, and being empowered to take appropriate action.
  3. Deliberately get proactive and ask for customer feedback – which is a good first step, but not enough. You also have to install processes for regularly reviewing all feedback and determining if any processes should be tweaked or any new ideas developed.
  4. Nothing is more frustrating to customers than to not be able to contact you when they want to, the way they want to. Make sure all contact information including phone numbers, chat services, email addresses, etc., are easy to find in all communication vehicles either in print or online. (Pro tip: Offer more than one channel of communication.)

One easy way to ensure each location is hitting these marks – and avoiding negative reviews — is to regularly use it. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes by eating your own food and using your own ordering service, whether it be on the phone, on the web or through mobile. Test the process from start to finish: Find and contact the location, place an order, monitor the delivery and/or food quality, even ask to speak to management. This will quickly uncover any bumps in the customer journey that encourage poor reviews; address these immediately.

Building the Best Operations

Now we get to the real heart of this issue: Considering that any customer at any time in any location could potentially tank your business online, how can you bash-proof all operations in each location and with every employee?

It really doesn’t have to be as complicated as that sounds – particularly if you implement a digital, mobile auditing solution that handles all the details for you. Here’s how.

Maintain Quality

The twin kiss of death in restaurant operations today is inadequate public safety measures and/or subpar product offerings. Moving your paper-based restaurant checklists, for both cleanliness and food preparation, to a digital format offers many advantages, chief among them the ability to standardize these lists across all employees and all shifts across multiple locations – and then to establish direct accountability for those filling out the checklists.

Establish Operational Consistency

But operational processes go well beyond checklists. A digital solution maintains these processes online, where any of your employees can access them with just a few clicks. In addition, you can update any process in the system just once, and it automatically rolls out to every device in every location in real time. Operations are almost effortlessly kept up to date and consistent throughout every location.

Further, a digital solution can simultaneously standardize and customize your employee training. Each position is assigned training modules that meet specific job requirements, so each employee completes only the relevant training. You can easily emphasize customer service and operational knowledge as is appropriate for any position.

Complete Regular Audits

Finally, only a standardized, consistent audit schedule will pinpoint how well each location is doing in providing the kind of customer service that prevents negative reviews. Your audits should encompass all the most salient points of your plan and should take place within each location as often as you find it reasonable. Whatever the schedule, a mobile, digital audit system is your best option for tracking all the details and consolidating them into the clear, real-time reporting that provides a current snapshot of operations not just within each location, but across your enterprise.

Get MeazureUp Into Your Prevention Plan

The best way to prevent negative online reviews is to place your customers at the heart of every operation completed by every employee. Only you know exactly what that could look like for your restaurant – but MeazureUp is the digital, mobile solution that will help you make that vision a reality through every employee, every shift, and every location. Contact us to see how our solution can help with your restaurant’s management and reputation today.