A bad Yelp review makes your stomach do flips, but it isn't the end of the world. Any well-established restaurant is bound to get negative feedback once in a while, no matter how flawless the food and service is. While you can't control the post, rest assured that you can mitigate the blowout, leaving your establishment's reputation untarnished.
Don't act on emotion
The best thing you can do when you see that dreadful Yelp review pop up is keep your cool. When you're feeling offended and upset, do nothing. Darnell Holloway, Yelp's manager of local business outreach, told Entrepreneur magazine that a cyber screaming match needs to be avoided at all costs.
"When deciding how to handle the review, we suggest thinking about what your customer service policies are for face-to-face interactions and applying that same logic to your written response," Holloway told Entrepreneur.
"When you're feeling offended and upset, do nothing."
If you feel like you're going to blow a fuse, appointment someone else to respond. You wouldn't tell off a diner who sends back a plate of food, would you? If you answered yes, it may be time to re-evaluate, but that's neither here nor there.
Getting back on track, cultivate a gentle, sympathetic and effective Yelp response to a bad review. Take some ownership because it shows that your restaurant is strong enough to be vulnerable. Apologize if someone says that he or she felt ignored or rushed.
Once you've acknowledged the situation and offered your condolences, you should take it a step further to not only wow the disappointed guest, but anyone who's on Yelp. Remember that although a bad response is transparent, so is your response. Use sticky situations like these to publicly demonstrate your company's professionalism and poise.
Finish the Yelp response strong by inviting the guest to re-visit your eatery to enjoy a complimentary meal or beverage. This gives the restaurant a chance to redeem itself and is a true testament to how important the guest is – something every diner wants to know when he or she spends hard-earned money on a meal out.
If and when the person who wrote the review decides to give your place a second try, really wow him or her. Make an appearance at the table at least once during the meal, but don't mention the review or ask the guest to post something positive. When the guest leaves in good spirits, your work on that case is done.
Because Yelp functions on an algorithm, you can't make the bad review disappear. However, you can do your best to encourage positive feedback when opportunity arises, which weakens any negative words. Create comment cards and distribute them when you drop checks off at tables.
Handing out comment cards and chatting up guests isn't just an opportunity for praise, it's a shot to learn areas of improvement before these suggestions hit Yelp. Excellent reviews are earned with hard work and crystal-clear communication. When you can make each guest feel important and taken care of, the positive reviews will pour in on their own.
Just remember: You can't please everyone. Inevitably you'll receive a review that seems unjust and inaccurate. You might do your utmost best to apologize when you're not wrong, and even extend special treatment to someone who isn't worthy of it. Some people will continue to complain, and that's life.
What you can do in any situation is rise to the occasion and give it your best. Above all, be the bigger person and jump at any chance to improve. If you try your hardest, not even a negative Yelp review can rain on your parade.
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