Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How pizzerias should deal with bad online reviews



Natalia Morais, Moving Targets
 By Natalia Morais
Director of Digital Marketing, Moving Targets
Guest Blog

There’s an easy way to overcome bad reviews: don’t get any in the first place! Since that’s close to impossible – no one can please every single customer – you should be prepared for when it happens. Regardless of your opinion on the subject, you cannot ignore the fact that customers use online reviews to decide where to go, and having bad reviews will negatively affect your pizzeria. So what should you do when you get a bad review? 

Here are a few secrets:

1.     Yell out loud… at the wall.
It doesn’t matter how wrong the review is, you cannot, by any means, yell at the customer. So if you get a bad review, don’t reply immediately. Go do something else and clear your head. It’s easy to get upset and personal, and that’s not the best mindset to have when writing a reply. Most customers don’t expect an instant answer, so take as much time as you need to calm down, and think of a nice way to explain your side of the story.

   
2. Write everything that’s in your head… and delete it.
A written message can be interpreted in many ways, so if you want a customer to read it as it was intended, you need to be clear and concise. Most of the time, your first draft will sound rushed. The best way to write a reply is to include all the facts, read it multiple times and edit it down to what matters most. Asking another person to read the review and your response is another great way to ensure the tone is right.

3.     Customers are understanding people… but they aren’t psychics.
You got a bad review about how rude your server was or how weird the pizza tasted. You’re angry – your server is having a bad day because his mom is in the hospital, and you had to use a different sauce because your supplier was late. This customer should try to be more understanding, right? Well, customers don’t know what happens behind the scenes, so instead of calling him out, explain why you weren’t able to meet his expectations and how you plan to fix it.

4.     Have a standard response… and never use it.
Posting the same reply to every review is the worst thing you can do. Customers write reviews for one reason only: they want to be heard. So make sure you address the specific points in each review, and never, ever, give them an excuse. There are no excuses for a bad experience. If a customer chose to spend his money with you, you should try your best to satisfy that customer. If you had an unexpected problem, explain what happened and apologize in your reply. Customers won’t accept pointless excuses, but they will give you another chance if you explain what happened.

5.     Don’t judge the book by its cover… investigate a little further.
Online reviews can help improve your business. Don’t make assumptions when you read a bad review; investigate the issues stated with your staff. Many owners overlook problems because they’re passionate about their business. People make mistakes, but if they affect your customer experience, you need to find ways to improve. If two or more reviews mention a specific problem, you are probably guilty of it.  Instead of blaming the “crazy” customers, find out how truthful the complaints are. If the review was written by a former employee or a competitor, answer it as if it were a customer and move on.

6.     Be the captain of the ship… and go to war.
Your online reputation is extremely important, so manage it strategically. You have happy customers, so ask them to leave reviews by directing them to the website that will benefit you most. If your TripAdvisor page doesn’t have many reviews for example, ask customers to post some there. Once you get a good amount, ask customers to write reviews on Urbanspoon too. If you get a bad review on Google, start asking happy customers to post there.

7.     Turn off your computer… and go to bed.
Don’t lose sleep over bad reviews. They will happen regardless of how good your pizzeria is. You won’t please every customer that comes through your door, so be satisfied knowing you are doing your best. Customers don’t expect perfection, but they do expect you to care.

If you have any questions about social media or online reputation, feel free to contact me. If you would like Moving Targets to manage your online reputation for you, check out our program. Mention PMQ Magazine and get $100 off any service.