Restaurants are often targets for online critics, so if you’ve gotten zinged by an unfavorable post or two on Yelp or another review site, you’re not alone. Some things can’t be helped, but how you handle the negativity isn’t one of them.
Here’s a game plan for dealing with online critics:
- Call a full staff meeting.
- Come prepared with a few negative (and positive) Yelp posts that are credible and can offer teachable moments to your staff.
- Constructively review the feedback as a group and talk about strategies for improvement.
- Solicit comments from both the front and back of the house to get the whole story.
- Reinforce the mantra that either “we all succeed together, or we all fail together.” Invested employees are more likely to be committed to the success of the business.
- Make sure everyone on staff understands the protocol for handling a customer service issue and has the autonomy to correct a problem in the moment.
- Be sure to address positive reviews, too. It’s important to keep morale up by talking about what’s being done well and giving praise.
- Claim your restaurant’s Yelp listing so that you can manage your profile and make posts on behalf of your business.
- Implement a policy of responding to both negative and positive reviews. Keep replies sincere and gracious: “Your feedback is important to us. We hope you’ll consider giving us another try.”
- Depending on the nature and legitimacy of the review, you could invite the guest to continue the conversation offline, and discuss options for correcting the situation.
While none of these steps can undo a negative customer experience, they can be used constructively to fix a problem area and reduce the likelihood of a repeat occurrence. More importantly, addressing customer feedback and learning from mistakes sets you and your business on the path to long-term success.
This article originally appeared on Restaurant Hospitality.