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How To Deal With The Fallout From A Bad Yelp Review

How To Deal With The Fallout From A Bad Yelp Review

Turn a negative review into a positive opportunity for your restaurant.

Don’t be held hostage by bad restaurant reviews, especially on Yelp. You can make a difference and change the tide of the review.

In this article, we look at how to deal with the fallout from a bad Yelp review so you can give a lift to your restaurant business.

Why is Yelp so important? And, why do online reviews matter? They matter because more than 11 million people use Yelp, making it one of the biggest drivers of restaurant traffic. If you’ve got bad reviews, your traffic is going to suffer.

First, let’s review the reasons why you should even deal with the review in the first place.

Why You Should Respond

Even restaurants with exceptional food and stellar customer service receive less-than-glowing reviews on occasion. (tweet this)

Sometimes the feedback is justified, and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes people just want to complain. Quite frankly, though, it doesn’t matter. You need to respond either way.

How you respond is even more important. While a negative Yelp review can impact your restaurant, if you respond to it sympathetically and with respect for the reviewer, you can get past the bad review. In fact, you can often turn the bad review into a positive.

Because Yelp is the review site of choice for many restaurant-goers, we ask you to consider that not all bad reviews are bad for business. You might even find that a negative review is an opportunity for your restaurant to shine.

You can show your current and potential restaurant customers that you care enough to respond kindly and remedy the problem.

Yelp tells businesses that responding to reviews is a great way to learn from and build goodwill with your most vocal customers.

So, now that you know it’s imperative you respond to negative reviews, let’s look at how to deal with the fallout from a bad Yelp review.

Be Calm

As you read the bad review, your blood boils, and your first reaction is to type your own scathing, negative response.

Avoid this at all costs.

Even if the review is completely wrong, this is an opportunity for you to show your customer service prowess. If you are too angry to answer the review, you have two choices: step back and wait a little bit or hand it off to a trusted staff member.

The trick is to never answer a negative review until you’ve calmed down and can answer it from an objective place.

Don’t Argue

One of the worst things you can do when answering a negative review is to respond argumentatively. Resist the temptation to retaliate.

Furthermore, resist the urge to tell your customer why they are wrong and their review is incorrect.

While we recognize that your first instinct is to protect and defend your restaurant, remember your bigger digital audience.

Negativity versus negativity won’t win you customers.

Listen to the Reviewer

Once you’ve gotten past your initial anger and instinct to protect your restaurant, step back and really listen to what the reviewer wrote.

The customer had a reason for writing it, right or wrong, and it can provide insight into an aspect of your business you didn’t know about.

Perhaps there is something you can do to change a process, a menu item or improve upon?

If you really read the review objectively, you may realize other customers might have the same problem, and you’ve got room for improvement.

Don’t let the reviewer be your enemy. Use the negative Yelp review as a time to improve and make your restaurant even better.

Respond Like a Diplomat

When you’re ready to respond to the review, be very professional. Consider yourself the neutral zone.

With Yelp, you can respond privately or publicly. When you respond privately, it’s like sending an email to the reviewer. When you respond publicly, your comment shows up right under the user’s review and can be seen by anyone.

The public route is a bonus for your restaurant in two ways:

  • You address the reviewer’s feedback publicly which is helpful to others who may have had the same problem.
  • You show your Internet audience you can handle conflict, and you care enough to resolve the issue.

We definitely recommend responding publicly, but you can also send a private message as well. This addresses the customer personally.

In the private and public replies, address your customer by name and thank them for their business. Apologize for their negative experiences and offer a constructive reply.

You can minimize the fallout from a bad Yelp review by responding calmly, publicly and effectively. (tweet this) The key here is to preserve your public image, minimize the broader consequences and hopefully win your customer back.

Keep Your Message Consistent

Whether you have two negative reviews or five, it’s key to respond to each and every review with the same tact.

Be active on your Yelp listing and respond in a timely fashion to each review. It’s a good rule of thumb to even respond to the positive reviews with at least a thank you.

Be a Restaurant People Can Trust

Negative reviews are unavoidable. It’s what you do with them that defines who you are as a restaurant. This can have great impact on your image.

Be a restaurant people can trust by making an effort to respond to negative reviews calmly and with compassion. Make an effort to improve your restaurant where needed.

Take the time to really evaluate all of your online reviews and initiate steps to respond. People will notice when you do this well.

Yelp can sway customer opinion of your restaurant. With more than 102 million reviews posted on Yelp, you can’t afford to ignore the negative reviews. Here are the keys to surviving the fallout from a bad Yelp review and increasing customer trust in your restaurant:

  • Remain calm.
  • Pay attention to your customers.
  • Learn and grow from their feedback.
  • Be professional.

Final Thoughts

Yelp is the perfect avenue for your restaurant marketing. You don’t even have to look for an audience, because this is where people come to find out about your restaurant.

The statistics show that positive reviews affect your restaurant’s bottom line. Consider a Harvard business study that shows that each additional ratings star on a Yelp review translates to anywhere from a 5% – 9% effect on revenues.

Responding to bad restaurant reviews with a calm, empathetic, kind voice can often turn a negative review into a positive one.

So, the next time you receive a negative review, stay calm and work through your answer in a positive way. Remember that not only will your reviewer read the review, but so will anyone else who decides to visit your Yelp page.

Have you ever received a negative Yelp review? How did you handle it? We’d love to hear about your experiences. Please share below.

Images: Alejandro Escamilla and Paweł Wojciechowski



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