With the proliferation of social media and crowdsourced review sites, restaurants are now at the mercy of the public. What’s the best way to deal with negative reviews and comments? InternetReputationManagement.com founder Kent Campbell offers the following plan of attack:
1. Don’t respond online. It is possible that any additional comments on the review site will just strengthen the link in the eyes of search engines. By defending yourself online, you may be drawing more attention to the negative.
2. Don’t call your attorney—at least not right away. Your attorney may file a complaint, which will likely find its way online, get indexed on Google, and then pop up as a link in Google search results. In other words, it can worsen the problem if handled incorrectly.
3. Don’t share the bad news. Restaurant owners usually want to talk about the bad review with their teams or worse … online, asking “Can you believe this guy?” Kent advises against this. “It's the opposite of containing the problem. You share the bad news, which is the same as spreading the negative sentiment.” Make your best call, but you don’t want it to end up on an employee’s Facebook page.
4. Do call the reviewer (if you can obtain his number) and speak calmly. Don’t send an email. If you do, the email may be reposted online.
5. Do try to get the reviewer to retract the comment. If you are able to reach her by phone, offer to fix the problem and see if she’s willing to retract the comment once you do. You’ll be saving yourself the cost of an internet reputation expert to push the review further down in Google’s search results.