Chelsea Allenby

Chelsea Allenby is a Digital Marketer of 9 years and Managing Director of Allenby Digital Ltd, an online marketing agency she set-up in 2015, specialising in social media and content marketing.

All publicity is good publicity, right? WRONG! Fueled by social media, with instant access to a huge pool of people. Bad buzz, negative reviews and terrible write-ups are certainly not what you want to be serving up. Whilst it’s true that some negatively is unavoidable (we can’t please everyone right?) it’s certainly manageable. Reputation management should be high on your list, learning how you react to that negativity is key. Here’s what to do when things aren’t going as planned in the online world.

Always Respond Quickly

Before we venture into the ‘how to’ respond, first we must point out when to respond! As quickly as possible is the answer. When you see a bad review, a bad comment or anything along those lines, create a system to flag it with the relevant person. This might just be you, or it might be your social media manager, or it might be another staff member. Have a system in place that allows the appropriate person to reply within as little time as possible. This responsiveness in itself can help resolve issues to do with customer service. It also shows other customers who can see the exchange, that you care about how your customers feel and you are ready to deal with their requests and queries.

In this example below, the restaurant has failed to reply to the customer which has put off other potential customers from visiting:


It’s Okay to Remove Things

We always recommend replying to negative comments and reviews rather than simply deleting them. However, there are the exceptions to that rule. When someone has publically shared something that uses language that isn’t deemed appropriate for that platform, or for public use then go ahead and remove immediately. Sometimes you will come across an impossible situation and these are known as ‘trolls’. A troll is someone who only wants to cause upset or anger. They don’t want resolution and typically they have had no real experience with your business, they are simply ‘trolling’ the internet causing trouble.

Apologise Where Necessary

Let’s take the example of a customer leaving a review:

“I was extremely disappointed with the service our family received. We waited over 45 minutes for our food and it arrived cold.” – Julie

The first thing to ask yourself is this: Is that a true statement? You might not agree with their opinion, but you must decide if the statement is true first. If it is, you need to respond accordingly and apologise. By apologising you are validating their feelings and from there you can offer a solution to either rectify the problem or compensate the customer. You can offer discounts or freebies on their next visit, or you could explain any extenuating circumstances that you feel are relevant.

A good response would be this:
“Hi Julie, we are so sorry you had a bad dining experience during your recent visit. We always aim to deliver the very best service and we must apologise that your family waited so long for your meal. This is not normally the case and we hope you will accept a 50% off voucher for your next four meals if you would like to visit us again so we can make it up to you”

Another good example:


Responding to False Comments

So, what if the comment is false? If it’s not a troll but the comment or review doesn’t add up, you should assume that it has been left in error. Maybe you do not serve that particular dish, or you do not open on the day in question. Politely explain the reason why you feel a mistake has been made and then remove the exchange once resolved.

Nip It In the Bud

There are methods you can introduce to prevent genuinely bad reviews from making it to social media or other internet sources. If you collect customer feedback at the point of billing, you can quickly respond and apologise there and then. Offer a solution or compensation before diners leave your restaurant.

If the situation is slightly larger scale, such as a bad piece of press that is getting a lot of traction, follow the same rules as above. Is the media coverage true or does it contain true elements? Publically acknowledge and apologise for the mistake that has been made, do not hide away and ignore something that is giving your brand a bad name.