Although we wish all days in the restaurant industry were full of positivity and satisfied customers, it doesn't always turn out that way. Social media has become a platform to not only share your restaurant's happy moments but a place for customers to complain, leave negative reviews, and share their opposing point of views.
How should you properly address negative comments on your social media pages? Each scenario is different and requires a different crisis management strategy, but here are some tips to consider next time you find your restaurant in the middle of a heated discussion.
1. Acknowledge the customer on your page: Customers don't like to be ignored. Whether they are right or wrong, acknowledge that you hear them and would like to solve the problem. Acknowledgment also allows other customers to see that you are taking steps to correct the mistake and you care about your customers.
2. Move the conversation to a private message if possible: Facebook's messaging tool is the perfect way to move the negative conversation from public to private. When you acknowledge the customer, ask them to private message you so you can learn more about the situation and take the appropriate steps.
3. Turn off the comments feature if things are getting out of control: If you find your restaurant in the middle of a heated argument about a business decision, you may find your Facebook and Twitter pages overflowing with opinions and negative reviews. These opinions and negative reviews can take over your page and take attention away from your daily posts. Don't be scared to turn off the comment feature until you're ready to make an official announcement about the problem.
4. Make an announcement: Don't let the social media community lead the conversation. Take control of the situation by releasing a statement, preferably written by an owner or manager, that addresses everyone's concerns, explains the decision/problem, and offers a solution. Post it on your social media channels.
5. Remember, you won't please everyone, and at the end of the day your restaurant is your restaurant, and your most loyal customers will appreciate you for it: You won't be able to please everyone with your statement and solution. You'll still have customers who are angry, but the most important customers to please are your loyal customers. Be prepared for some continuous uproar, but know that if you can keep you loyal customers happy the conversation will soon die down and those engaging in the conversation will move on to something new in a few days or weeks.
When crafting a crisis management social media strategy, remember that each situation is unique. Your restaurant's brand is important, so respond accordingly and take extra steps to please your most loyal customers.