Every so often, we get a call from a client (most of the time a restaurant) asking “can’t we do anything about bad reviews on ( insert site name here)” and the answer is sure, but, you have to worry about it all the time, not just when it suits you.
The first and best solution is to be proactive. Make sure you ask if your customers are satisfied several times. In fact, we often recommend that you print directly on your guest check “If you aren’t satisfied, don’t pay until you’ve talked to a manager”
An ounce of prevention is worth ten tons of headaches after they leave and trash your place. The sad thing is, it doesn’t even have to be true- and people will believe it. A client, a local pizza shop had someone say “the chicken wasn’t cooked- still raw” which is impossible, since all his chicken is pre-cooked. Another restaurant got a bad review by a guy who wrote in a reasonable tip on his charge, then came back in demanding a refund for his $5 beer with a $1.34 tip which he claimed was a $1 more than it should have been, and wanted $10 back in cash. The part he left out- he also called the cops to try to settle his dispute. And these are “reviewers”?
One restaurant in San Francisco decided to ask its customers to write 1 star bad reviews on Yelp- and even gave a discount to people who panned them. This article includes some of the reviews:
Botto Bistro is encouraging all of its customers to leave one-star Yelp reviews; it is even offering deals for anyone who pens a crummy review: 25% off any pizza and a chance to win a cooking class. (Hat-tip to Richmond Standard.)
Chefs and co-owners Davide Cerretini and Michele Massimo are veterans of the local dining scene, and say that their food is excellent and they run a busy restaurant. According to Cerretini, they simply grew tired of the constant advertising inquiries from Yelp and what he dubs “blackmailing” and review manipulation. (Sidenote: A judge recently ruled that Yelp has the power to manipulate reviews.)
Yelp doesn’t just review restaurants, so you might want to check what people have said about your business there.
Other sites you may be getting reviewed on: Facebook, Trip Advisor, Foursquare, Zomato (formerly UrbanSpoon) and Google. Google has a mechanism to ask for reviews to be reviewed- but it’s a little tricky to find your way there, so here’s a video guide.
Again, the best way to avoid bad reviews- excellent customer service. And, if people seem really happy, ask them to write an amazing review for you.