When to speak up
If a negative review is accurate or deserved, respond with an apology. Feel free to offer an explanation if you have one, but don’t make up excuses, and keep it short.
Reviews containing inaccurate information warrant a tactful response. Apologize for any inconvenience caused and gently correct the user without being overly defensive.
And then there are the inevitable exaggerated reviews, which are generally more difficult to deal with. If someone claims they waited over an hour for food, contradicting them will only make you look bad. Resist the temptation to do so — even if you know the customer can’t have waited more than half an hour. In situations like this, a private apology is best.
When to shut up
Deal with aggressive or confrontational reviews in the way you’d deal with aggressive or confrontational customers in person: don’t rise to the bait. Some people just want a fight — and anybody who sees the review will understand that.
Retaliate, though, and they won’t understand. Your responses could even go viral, turning you into a laughing-stock. Remember Amy’s Baking Company from Kitchen Nightmares? For that couple, embarrassing themselves on TV wasn’t enough. They went on a social media rampage and retaliated to negative reviews with insults, then claimed they were hacked. Smooth.
And outside Yelp?
The same principles apply on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else you come across negative feedback, even in the real world.
It’s best to appease disgruntled customers before they leave your establishment — word of mouth spreads like wildfire online, so keeping customers happy is more important than ever.
The infographic below breaks it all down simply. But sometimes even doing everything right can get you into trouble. If that happens, you know who to call. Us.