With the growth of online engagement through e-commerce and social media, more and more conversations are happening between you and your customers online. This blog is based on an original post by revinate.com, professionals in the hotel industry. I’ve tweaked it slightly to fit the food industry but the general message is the same.

A key point to recognize in this area is that responding is something you should do. Do not ignore negative feedback. It will not go away, it is part of today’s world.  People are talking about you so you might as well be part of the conversation.  How your online reputation matures will be in large part up to you.

Responding to Negative Reviews

It is important for people to know that you value their feedback.  Taking everyone’s reviews seriously is an important part of building your company’s reputation.  When possible have a person in a position of authority respond.

1. Acknowledge the consumer

Take the time to thank the consumer by name.   They have taken the time to connect with you and by acknowledging this you are showing respect for their time and letting them know that your company feels all feedback is valuable. Often, if you handle the situation gracefully, you can minimize the damage.

2. Apologize for the consumer’s poor experience

By expressing sympathy for the consumer,s negative experience with your product you are not admitting guilt or wrongdoing,  You are simply letting them know that you have heard what they are telling you and recognize that they are disappointed.

3. Let the consumer know what you have done or plan to do about it

Once the public acknowledgment has been made, it is a good idea to take the conversation offline.  Invite the consumer to contact you directly to discuss things further.  If you do decide to compensate the consumer in any way, it is best not to have this conversation online and set a precedent for the future.

4. Take a moment to look at your company’s review system

Any negative interaction with a consumer is an opportunity to learn something.  Use the experience to ask yourself a few simple questions:

Overall how was the review handled?
Could it have been done better?
Is it something that might happen again and if so what can be done to prevent it?

Managing your online reputation is a key part of your communication.  If you are uncertain how to make this a regular part of your schedule, seek expert advice and get the help you need.