Dealing with criticism – the bad review!

These days there are blogs and review sites popping up everywhere and the chances that your establishment will get a glowing review 100% of the time, is slim to none. However, in the unfortunate circumstance of an unfavourable review, how you deal with it says more about your business than the review itself.

Firstly, is it true?

Read the review carefully, consider the comments that have been made. Is this a genuine review or a malicious attack? Most of the time, the reviewer does not have something against your business or enterprise – they are simply being honest about their experience. Does some of what they are saying ring true?

Secondly, reach out to the reviewer

This obviously all comes down to your PR guidelines, but we would suggest contacting the reviewer – not in a public forum (i.e. send direct messages not Facebook posts or tweets). Thank them for their review. Ask them if they would be willing to set up a call or a meeting to discuss the review.

Listen to what they have said

This is valuable information on your client / customer’s experience. Put away any anger or embarrassment you may feel and address the concerns raised. Often the issues are very easy and simple to fix and improve the overall experience.

What to do when you've received a bad review!

What to do when you’ve received a bad review!

Fix the problem

Remember that although it might seem like a PR nightmare, the problem is actually not the poor review. The problem is the poor experience one of your client’s had at your establishment, and the likelihood that others feel the same but are just not voicing  their concerns, but they will talk with their feet…

Once you have reached out to the reviewer in question, consider a public response. Something along of the lines of an apology to the reviewer for the awful experience, thanking them for bringing this to your attention and followed by an undertaking to rectify the issues.

Invite the reviewer again

Once you have addressed the concerns raised, invite the reviewer to come and try your establishment again. Throw in a free night’s stay or some other encouraging factor to get them to come back and ask them to let you know how they have experienced their second stay at your hotel, meal at your restaurant or spa experience.

We are not suggesting you specifically ask the reviewer to write a positive review, but hopefully they will be so pleased with the changes that they will want to let their readers know that you have taken their criticism to heart and improved the customer experience for everyone!

What not to do :

  • act in a defensive manner, sub-tweet, defame the reviewer;
  • ignore the review altogether, block the reviewer and put your head in the sand;
  • send threatening letters to the reviewer demanding they remove the post/publish an apology (this will only result in them writing further articles or posts about how poor your management style really is and how you have threatened them…);
  • any other action that is aimed at trying to “silence” the reviewer and/or the bad review.

Prevention is better than cure

Of course, your best option is to ensure that you never receive such a review, by contacting Guestwho Mystery Guest Services to come into your organization and conduct a review for you. Remember that our reviews are confidential and private and will not be published – the information is for your eyes only, so you can rectify any issues and ensure that you only receive a sparkling review from the public!

Should waiters take notes?

How to train your dragon waiter*

*waiter, waitress, waitron, server, steward etc – replace with whichever term you find least offensive

Fancy waiters without notepads

Yes, yes, for many years now, a sign of a classy restaurant is the fact that your possibly college-educated waiter takes your order without the need for a pen and paper.

“Paperless” waiters create an impression that staff members are well-trained and educated. However, the service must be impeccable for your establishment to get this one right. It’s no help if the waiter gets the order wrong or forgets to bring the starter!

If the waiter manages to remember the order correctly (without the need to come back to the table and confirm it) then your patrons will be impressed, but it is something that can easily backfire when things do not go according to plan.

Train ’em up

Waiters need to be very knowledge with respect to your restaurant’s menu. Ideally, the waiter should be able to answer questions as to ingredients in dishes and address diner’s concerns in line with their particular dietary requirement (without needing to excuse themselves to go and ask the chef).

Far more impressive (than a waiter who does not need a notepad) is a waiter who understands dishes that complement each other, and even more so, can suggest wine parings.

Waiters should not only undergo training in respect of their duties and the menu when they first begin at the restaurant, but refresher courses should be mandatory.  Alternatively, you should conduct an internal audit / review process, or make use of a mystery diner service such as Guestwho.

All waiters need kitty notepads and sparkly pens

(Not really). In fact, preferably, not at all! If waiters will be making use of notepads, either provide a standard notepad to staff, or insist upon a particular style of notepad being used. It is most definitely off-putting when a waiter whips out a scraggly and scruffy old notepad and then searches for an open space within which to record your guest’s order! The neater the presentation of the notebook, the better the impression created as to the strict requirements of the restaurant (and its general cleanliness and tidiness).

The standard-issue kitty notepad & sparkly pen

The standard-issue kitty notepad & sparkly pen