Ah, reviews…. necessary if you’re a restauranteur and really, in any retail business. The title of this blog is actually the title to one of several negative reviews we’ve received over the years. Imagine getting an email with that as the subject line. It’s always upsetting, makes one feel sick to our stomach, it’s unexpected and then we realize can’t do anything about it for that customer anymore. Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Google, etc. There are so many places patrons can go to leave a review for our place.
Reviews can feel like a double edged sword because if you get good reviews you can climb the ranks of places to go but when you get a bad review it’s usually REALLY bad. Most of the reviews we get are great, the reviewer says nice things about the work we do, the atmosphere we create, and the food and drink we serve. We do work really hard to coach our team to deliver the best food, drink and service, so we don’t get a ton of bad reviews. But… we’re all human and mistakes happen.
Here’s some of the “best” snippets from bad reviews:
“It’s a good place to buy a clever shirt but an awful place to eat.”
“How can Trip advisor rank this so well?”
“Too many other great places in town to waste time here.”
Review “culture” seems to have improved over the last 5 years since I’ve started paying attention. In the past, Yelp reviews were usually the meanest reviews. For a while, it seemed like Yelpers were really just having a contest to see who could write the best 1 star reviews. Facebook, generally has the most positive reviews, and it makes sense, because it’s usually people who like your page who write a review. If they didn’t like you they wouldn’t facebook “like” you.
Lately, I’ve noticed a trend and it seems to be that reviews are becoming more positive and helpful rather than just plain mean. I like this trend! Let’s keep it going! Anyone who is reading this and has given us a great review THANK YOU!! Great reviews help a business to be seen by others and therefore increase sales. You can really help a restaurant you love by posting 5 star reviews on all of the major sites, or even just one of them. If you’ve got a 1 star experience, give the place a chance to respond privately before dragging down their online rating.
In an effort to improve the review culture and deal with bad reviews before our mistakes are posted for the world to see, we provide an email on the back of our menu for any feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, we always have a shift leader working in the dining room, checking in with tables to see how their experience is going. If something is wrong, we hope our guests take this moment to tell the staff member (who isn’t your server) when they ask how everything is? We can make it better, or at least try to, and if we can’t, we can remove a specific item from your bill. We want to fix what’s wrong, our number one goal is that you have such a good experience you are going to come back. If that’s not the case, we want to know constructive feedback so that we can improve our service.
I think the topic of review sites and how stressful they are is something managers “in the industry” talk about amongst ourselves. However, it’s taboo to talk about with customers because a restaurant is delivering an experience to you. Experiences are subjective and personal which is why some people get so very passionate in their reviews good or bad. Many times a bad review could be avoided if the reviewer understood the ins and outs and logistics of the restaurant industry. Sometimes a bad review is 100% correct and we totally messed up. At Neptune’s we are willing to own our mistakes.
So here I am, pulling back the curtain and laying it all out there with a simple message: Be kind when reviewing, remember that there is a real person who is receiving your review. Give the owners/managers a chance to repair what went wrong before you blast it out to the internets. Lastly, for some reason, as humans we tend to review or speak up when we are upset about something. I would challenge everyone out there who posts a poor review to also post a review for every time you are pleased with a business as well.