restaurant reputation management

As an avid member of the Yelp Elite Squad, I’ve had numerous discussions on the different approaches that business owners have taken with us, and our reactions to them. While it’s easy to call an online reviewer a restaurant elitist with a false sense of entitlement, your positive customer reviews will increase much easier if you treat all of your customers as if they’re potential online reviewers.

Here are tips to resolve bad Yelp reviews for 5 common scenarios:

By the way, it’s completely free to “claim” your business on Yelp and respond to customers directly, through messages and review comments.

A Bad Yelp Review About Your Restaurant’s Food

When someone writes a review that notes detailed remarks about your food, you need to address it. But first see if this was a one-off exception, or if it’s a more fundamental issue. If it was a one-off issue, was it out of your control? For example, if the local farm ran out of tomatoes, make sure you note this.  If you were testing a new dish, offer the Yelper a free meal to come back and try a staff favorite!  If it’s a fundamental issue, speak to your chef & kitchen staff to get fixed ASAP before another bad review comes in. As someone who’s been offered a free meal by various establishments, I can tell you that most will probably not take you up on the offer. They may however, soften or delete their review based on your heartfelt and personal message to them.

A Bad Yelp Review About Your Restaurant’s Drinks

Drinks are a very personal choice. If a Yelper didn’t like a cocktail, offer them a complimentary cocktail their next time in to try something else. If they didn’t like your wine or beer selection, get their feedback and talk with your bar manager about opportunities for improvement.  Even if you don’t add their favorites to your menu, other Yelpers will see that you responded.

A Bad Yelp Review About Your Restaurant’s Service

While service may not be the most important checklist item on every diner or shoppers’ mind, it is something worth resolving. Try contacting the Yelper and asking them more about who served them or helped them at your business. Make sure to address the issue with the member of your staff. If they’ve already left or have been let go, make sure to tell this to the person who left you the review.

A Bad Yelp Review About Your Restaurant’s Atmosphere

It’s so petty, but you’ll commonly find reviews about your business that focus entirely too much on your restaurant or store atmospherics. If you’ve done something to resolve the issue, be sure to send them a message to let them know that their feedback matters to you.

A Bad Yelp Review With Little to No Details

If you have a review about your business that is made by someone who has few reviews and leaves little to no details, you might be a little stuck. It’s likely that a message to this person most likely won’t be seen or read because they’re probably not an active member. If you suspect that it was made by a competing business or out of harassment, you can mark it spam or contact Yelp to have it filtered.

The One Response You Should Never Have

Never, ever, ever respond to someone in a negative or vicious manner. I can promise you that the derogatory things you say will be copied and pasted or paraphrased into their review for the whole world to see. And remember to never pay for fake Yelp reviews; it’s against guidelines and could result in a fine or them shutting down your listing.

Final Thoughts

The most important thing to remember is that contacting the Yelper to apologize or ask for more information will never hurt your business. Even if the Yelper doesn’t update their review, other potential customers will see (and appreciate) your response. But there have been plenty of times where I’ve gotten sincere apologies and have deleted a review all together and waited until my next visit to leave another review. It’s all basic customer service. Imagine that this person is right in front of you complaining about your food or the service in your store and address it the same way you would in that situation.

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As part of Upserve’s family of more than 10,000 restaurants, The Chef is Restaurant Insider’s secret weapon in the kitchen. As a restaurant expert in all things marketing, menu building, management, training and more, restaurateurs trust The Chef and the award-winning Restaurant Insider to dish out the ingredients needed to make your business a sweet success.