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How to handle online customer complaints and not die trying

Posted by Feb 26, 2018 7:21:00 AM

If the topic of online customer complaints brings to mind scenarios you would rather not deal with, we cannot blame you! Sustaining a favorable image of your restaurant despite criticism and negative reviews is not an easy task. Dedicated websites and social media accounts serve the purpose of promoting the virtues of new and established brands but they can also be used to receive input from clients, including the type of feedback that could damage the reputation of your business.

Customers love being able to express their opinions on the Internet, their comments and reviews will reach other users who may be looking for specific products and services. It is crucial to ensure your business is perceived as a viable option that contributes to the best interests of your community both locally and online.

We would like to bring to your attention a valuable fact: many restaurants have been able to maintain impeccable reputations thanks to the implementation of well-defined complaint handling protocols.

Through this article, we will present you with helpful knowledge we have acquired after interviewing restaurants that have managed to handle complaints successfully, keeping their businesses listed among the best choices available on specialized review websites.

Resolve online customer complaints as soon as possible!


Online customer complaints

It is unrealistic to imagine your brand will never deserve unfavorable reviews or negative criticism. Be prepared to be on the receiving end of harsh or even hostile remarks. Once disgruntled customers start to manifest through social networks and websites devoted to the promotion of your brand, you cannot afford to pretend they do not exist, neither should you attempt to delete their comments or ignore them. There is no wisest choice left: face your clientele, deliver immediate, appropriate and sincere responses.

If a business owner chooses to banish unsympathetic comments or fails to respond to feedback left by irritated customers, those who are dissatisfied will gain additional reasons to speak ill of that restaurant. You must be prepared to experience this scenario as soon as your brand becomes part of online communities; regardless of your best efforts, it carries the potential to spread quickly and ruin the reputation of your enterprise.

Criticism should not be considered an annoying or exasperating factor, it should in fact be regarded as a valuable commodity! You must inquire and listen to the opinions of clients who felt frustrated or uncomfortable while dining at your restaurant. Analyzing the input received from disappointed patrons can lead you to discover information you can use to provide better service. Being open to suggestions makes customers feel appreciated and gives them the possibility to influence the experience other users will be able to have in the future.

You must be prepared to step forward in order to express public apologies and encourage clients to contact you in order to solve conflictive situations before they reach the attention of members of the general public. Be honest, prepare the proper response and deliver it quickly, the sooner, the better!

We assure you that this approach will not go unnoticed, it will demonstrate the solidity of your best intentions and contribute to improve the level of service offered by your business. It will also send out a positive message to new customers who will use it as a reason to oppose the views of those who do not hold your establishment in the highest regard and act as an invitation to those who will visit your restaurant and judge you favorably.

React by providing the best possible response to criticism

When the opportunity to respond to complaints voiced over the Internet comes, we must do our best to avoid disrespecting clients, belittle their comments or express gestures that may offend them. We must remember the maxim that states: "The customer is always right" (even if that sometimes is not the case).

An effective pattern you can use to respond to online complaints focuses on offering a thank you note that lets clients know you value their opinion. It should also include a sincere apology that expresses how distressed the restaurant feels about the situation that caused them to feel disappointed and offer solutions to their problems.

This strategy must be followed through by staff members who specialize in handling customer complaints, (brand managers or the public relations department, depending on the magnitude of the problem) and resolve in ways that benefit the interests of both your business and those of your clients.

Prevent negative reviews by providing top service at your restaurant

Before complaints that express the opinions of customers who suffered terrible service at your establishment manage to reach those who still have not heard about your restaurant, you should do your best to prevent such distasteful situations by addressing them as soon as they come to happen.


It is imperative to train your staff members (from waiters and cooks to the upper management of your franchise) so they can be prepared and are able to respond quickly and effectively when heated discussions, disagreements or conflicts arise.

It is your responsibility to provide your staff with training that shows the correct way to deal with frustrated customers; you should also take precautions to make sure new hires will be able to sympathize with the concerns manifested by clients before they start working for you. Good strategies aimed to improve the reputation of your restaurant must include keeping employees who feel comfortable communicating with patrons who are not happy about the quality of service they have received.


Providing your associates with access to workshops that will reinforce methods they can use to deal with the different types of clients they will interact with on a daily basis, should not be considered a waste of time or money; the outcome of difficult situations could unexpectedly affect the reputation of your business and jeopardize the future of your brand.


Efforts to correct argumentative interactions will reflect on the attitude clients will show toward your brand, they will tend to refrain from leaving negative comments online and feel motivated to praise the experience you provided them with through specialized review websites. Business owners who have taken the time to make sure staff members will be able to listen to the concerns of their customers (and respond by offering agreeable solutions), have the upper hand on establishments that have chosen not to do so.


Do your best to decrease bad reviews before they reach online communities

The faithful approval many culinary establishments enjoy is usually based on how promptly they manage to provide the solutions they promised to clients who were unhappy about aspects of the products or services they were offered; once customer complaints have been addressed properly, finding unfavorable criticism about those restaurants (either online or by consumers who had pleasant experiences) becomes almost impossible.


Do not be surprised about the different type of complaints you will receive from customers online, expect them: to have doubts about the freshness of the ingredients you use, how waiters were rude or took too long to serve them, they may feel bothered about items they like but were missing from the menu or even disapprove about the distance between your location and the area where they live! No matter the input you receive, it is paramount to do your best and focus on responses that will threaten neither the mission nor the reputation of your brand.

Solutions offered by successful franchises include: hiring new product distributors, decreasing the volume of the music played in your restaurant, providing your waiting staff with training that will let them gain the sympathy of the customers they serve, offering special items to clients who are not able to consume certain foods and if the problem becomes serious or criticism becomes recurrent, consider moving to locations that are more accessible to users interested in giving you their business.

Before we end this article, we would like to remind you about how bad experiences suffered by frustrated customers demand prompt and friendly responses along with sincere apologies and reasonable solutions. If you feel it is important to state or even defend your points of view, do not forget to remain calm, and deliver your message in a respectful manner. It is acceptable to educate clients about the reasons behind characteristics of your restaurant they have not yet been able to appreciate.


Although reading negative comments online may sometimes turn into a significantly unpleasant experience, it is absolutely important to take into account the opinion of your customers and prepare strategies that may help you overcome difficult situations without having to compromise the reputation of your brand. Facing criticism is just another opportunity to continue moving forward as a business until you are able to integrate with the best your community has to offer.

Tags: online customers complaints, customer complaints, online complaints

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Content is a non-invasive way of selling the product or service you are offering. The purchase decision is based on the information that the customer has at the moment. It is your best ally because it doesn’t only allows you to educate your audience but also increases your sales potential.

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