For one owner, it happened while the customer was still in the restaurant.
As one savvy business owner was monitoring their social media portals, he discovered an unhappy customer was blasting in-the-moment tweets about his establishment’s poor service. He immediately identified both the customer still in the building and the problem and then performed quick damage control…the next tweet she sent was about the positive response she received.
The truth is you’ll likely never get that lucky.
Bad reviews can make their way to the top of your business’ search results quickly, so shifting the positive reviews up can prevent scaring off potential customers. Start controlling your positioning on customer review sites like Yelp.com, Urbanspoon.com and Google Local with a few smart tips.
It Pays to Creep
Blasting info and updates to your social media audience is only the first step in relationship building, monitoring what people are saying about you is the second step.
Take some time to “creep” around on sites like, Citysearch.com, Yelp.com, Places.Google.com or Local.Yahoo.com to see what people are saying about you. Then take control of your business by confirming that you are the official business owner. This allows you to add valuable information about hours of operation, location, contact information, specials and links to your website.
Manage Your Search
Plenty of great free and subscription-based services exist that will do the website crawling and monitoring for you. Plug in your business name into alert services like, Alerts.Google.com, Tweetbeep.com, or Postling.com then customize how often you want to receive those alerts. Be sure to quickly respond when issues erupt.
Solicit Your Fans
Often restaurant owners are skittish about asking customers to give a public review, but your best customers are usually honored to share what they love. Be frank about your recent negative review concern; when their favorite restaurant is threatened, loyalists will unite. Lean on those loyal customers to correct the effects of bad reviews.
I caution you about falsely loading your own reviews…authenticity on review sites is crucial and it only hurts you, the review site and the industry in the end. Always rely on unique reviews. (Plus, sites like Yelp.com have intuitive formulas to thwart this kind of behavior – you simply can’t crack their code!)
Even before bad reviews pop up, ask your wait staff to invite customers to share a review on those sites. That’s just smart planning. Be sure to ship a thank you note to those kind reviewers – paying or rewarding those reviews is typically frowned upon – keep it authentic.
Key in on Keywords
Whenever possible add keywords about your business in those review site profiles. When your business ranks high on search results, it outweighs a few bad reviews.
Use words that point to your specialties and promotions. (Example: Seafood, Gluten free, Martini Monday, Happy Hour, or Kids Eat Free)
Add other key selling points about your restaurant such as “patio bar,” “family friendly” to gain more of a presence.
Don’t discount bad reviews; they are a chance to get better at what you love doing. Stay on top of them, address them, and build up your happy reviews and you’ll “positively” shine!