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How to Respond to Restaurant Complaints and Reviews

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At Aspen- and South Florida-based public relations agency Durée & Company, we’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best restaurants, concepts and culinary start-ups throughout the United States, and we know that it’s not just the food that generates headlines. It can be chefs, new locations, mergers, grand openings, new menus, and sometimes even negative reviews.

With experience in every facet of the restaurant industry, we are always ready to handle any potential negative review or feedback. In an age where every guest is a critic, putting forth the very best in food quality, service and overall experience will reduce negative feedback. Despite these best efforts, there is still the potential for negative comments. So, what’s next? We put together 4 tactics to take into account when responding to a complaint or review.

  1. Understand the situation and respond quickly. Before trying to solve the issue at hand, it’s important to understand the situation and the full story behind the complaint. We work quickly to gather the facts so that we can respond in a timely manner. A fast response communicates that the restaurant cares about its patrons, and that management is actively monitoring feedback and prioritizes questions, complaints and comments that come from guests.
  2. Be open in your response. Being defensive or negative can only make matters worse. People generally forgive others who apologize, take ownership and are transparent about the situation. If there is any way to remedy the situation, offer it up. This can vary within each establishment, however offering the guest an opportunity to come back in is a way to win back loyalty. Utilize this feedback as a teaching opportunity for the team – everyone can make improvements and learn from the situation.
  3. Take the conversation offline. If you are receiving a complaint via social media or on a third-party review site, it is important to take the conversation offline and out of the public eye. Direct message the reviewer, if possible, and ask for a phone number or email. When trying to resolve the problem, it doesn’t help to have other guests following along or fueling the fire. This can prevent the situation from escalating.
  4. Work with third party review sites. Be proactive and work with third party review sites such as Yelp and influencers. Diners have strong opinions and this feedback can improve the quality and growth of your business. Don’t wait for a negative situation to happen to do a full assessment of your strengths and weaknesses and make goals to improve upon any weak spots. Whenever possible, work ahead and lay the groundwork for open dialogue with your guests. Being proactive with events and other community activations is another way to win loyalty. We have worked with Yelp Community Managers from around the country to host Yelp Elite events at restaurants. By doing this, we introduced over 30 influential guests to the restaurant and they reviewed their experience on a dedicated Yelp review page. The Yelp “Elite” also posted content from the event on their own, personal social media accounts to share with their followers.

Nobody is perfect (although we aim to be as perfect as possible!) and negative reviews or complaints come around every once in a while. Don’t be the leadership that simply wishes bad news away. Have a plan in place and an agile team that is skilled at keeping cool during a crisis. Are you a restaurant in need of a PR makeover? Give us a call at 954.723.9350 in Florida or 970.452.2195 in Aspen.

 

 

About Durée & Company

Durée & Company, Inc. is an award-winning full-service public relations, marketing and special events firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Aspen, Colorado. The firm serves the corporate, agency and non-profit arenas for local, national and international clients focusing on public relations for real estatepublic relations for restaurantspublic relations for law firmspublic relations for charitiespublic relations for healthcare, and many more. Durée & Company services include Public RelationsSocial MediaMarketingAdvertisingSpecial Events, and Radio Promotions and Outreach.

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