No matter if you run 100 locations or just one, the restaurant business is and always has been a customer-first kind of business. You could make the best homemade ravioli since your grandmother’s grandmother, but if you don’t like listening to customers talk about your ravioli on social media…don’t bother hanging up your shingle.
The web is still buzzing from the defensive social media rant posted by an Arizona restaurateur, Amy’s Baking Co., who was fed up after years of receiving negative online reviews that grew exponentially after a sensational appearance on the Fox reality TV show “Kitchen Nightmares” with chef Gordon Ramsay.
“I AM NOT STUPID ALL OF YOU ARE. YOU JUST DO NOT KNOW GOOD FOOD.”
Contrary to what this despondent business owner apparently believes, online reviewers are not snarky teenagers or random people with an axe to grind; they’re your customers. Gone are the days when just a few high-tech folks saw negative commentary about your menu and/or service – today, restaurateurs have to factor highly-connected, social media savvy, customers in as just part of the overall business landscape. When a purchasing decision can be switched by just one or two negative reviews, businesses have to respond to reviewers 100% of the time, whether they like what they’re saying or not.
And because it’s business, not personal – please learn from the Amy’s example and keep your social beliefs out of it, and above all else, keep your calm when replying to guests. Because although customers do tend to embellish to make a point, they’re giving you vital operational information you could be using to make your restaurant a success. You should be thanking them and begging for more reviews!
For more best practices on the best ways to engage to keep loyal customers, check out our eBook, “Social Engagement Best Practices.”