What if a Restaurant receives a negative review on MenuMania, or if the owner is suspicious of possible fake reviews? It has emerged this week that some cafe and restaurant owners are not yet aware of the clear process to follow.
We have just come across one particular case where the owner chose to not follow the process, so they have become caught in a frustrating dead-lock with the reviewer, after failing to communicate appropriately.
Below is a summary of the events that actually happened, and lessons learnt. Which we hope will help other restaurant owners to not fall into the same trap, even if they feel suspicious that there has been a ‘fake review’ – there is so much you can do to manage the situation. Just follow the process.
RE: Your restaurant’s negative reviews on MenuMania
Cristian from MenuMania here.
I’m worried about how you’ve ended up feeling frustrated.
I have reviewed the entire case, and can see where your plan to communicate with your reviewer ‘Angela’ went awry. Unfortunately, 5 months ago you chose not to make contact with the reviewer directly even though we recommended you do so privately. The first feedback she heard from you about her review was yesterday. However, the nature of your private messages didn’t follow the recommendations about approaching the customer to resolve the issue with an attitude of deep concern.
The main tool that we strongly emphasise to restaurant owners (you’ll recall our email to you many months ago), is to thoroughly read and follow the Review Guidelines.
MenuMania has a process in place for how to manage reviews on MenuMania of which you were made aware promptly the first time you contacted MenuMania.
In your first email to our Reviews Team, you raised your concerns with MenuMania in regard to reviews posted by Amanda, Angela, and Rangimarie on your MenuMania page.
MenuMania advised you of MenuMania’s process on how to manage your reviews.
You started off really well with managing the negative reviews – you sent a private message to Amanda as per MenuMania’s guidelines. Your private message to Amanda was in a non-threatening manner where you introduced yourself, showed that you care and and that you listen to customer’s feedback and you assumed that the reviewer is a genuine customer.
Amanda did not respond to your polite private message asking her to reply back to you with further details, so you notified us and MenuMania investigated and filtered out the review (MenuMania expects diners to stand by their reviews when the owner politely seeks further details about the reviewer’s experience at their eating establishment).
You also posted an Owner’s Comment to Rangimarie’s review, a day after the review was posted on your MenuMania page. However, you never sent a private message to Rangimarie as per MenuMania’s process. However it appears you chose to ‘take this one on the chin’ and simply demonstrated to other diners by writing a public ‘Owner’s Comment’ (instead of communicating with her) how sincere and passionate you are about your food, your customers, and your business as a whole – great!
You handled another complaint really well from ‘Rhonda’ – with a thoughtful ‘Owner’s Comment’.
But then, unfortunately, on 20th November 2012, when you posted an Owner’s Comment to Angela’s review 4 days after the review was posted, you did not send a private message to Angela as per our process until 5 months later.
The classic Customer Service approach was missing in your Owner’s Comment, and also by not contacting her directly. Unfortunately, you chose to send your first private message to Angela 5 months after the event, but you did not express any concern for her situation, and made it clear that you were insinuating that she was not a genuine customer. You bluntly started pointing out some of the statements in her review that you believe are false. In your message you requested Angela to call you or come to your restaurant to show evidence of receipts and discuss the matter. To avoid any confrontation, no customer would ever bother to call or ever want to go back to a restaurant they did not enjoy, and even less so to engage with an angry owner who showed no concern about their bad dining experience.
Within hours of your first private message in April 2013 to Angela, you sent a pretty blunt second private message in which you asked her to get back to you within one week with evidence that her claims were true. To this, Angela responded very promptly turning down your invitation which was not surprising given your bluntness and brushing off the validity of any points she made about her negative experience at your restaurant in her review.
A few hours later you sent another very blunt and rather threatening third private message in which you gave Angela no incentive to respond. No one responds well to threats and from a 101 Customer Services point of view it’s a very unprofessional way to treat customers.
It’s clear that your handling of Angela’s review has come short and although you have ‘gone public’ with your frustrations against MenuMania, we feel that you do need to take responsibility for not following correctly our guidelines and process of how to handle your reviews. MenuMania cannot be held accountable for your poor handling of an unhappy customer and for this reason MenuMania cannot remove Angela’s review as you’ve requested.
MenuMania does not take sides when it comes to factual disputes because MenuMania can’t be the judge and we stand by that. It’s up to the owner to follow the review process correctly in a professional and non-threatening manner.
Also, we believe that it’s dangerous to have the default perception that a reviewer is fake… what if a reviewer is a genuine customer? (So many times we’ve had restaurant owners coming back to us ‘eating humble pie’ after realising that their anger was misdirected and that the reviewer was 100% their genuine customer). That’s why MenuMania has built the Reviews Process for managing a negative review the way we have. The main aim is to draw the reviewer out and generate a two-way communication between you as the owner, and the diner. Typically, the reviews team needs to see that you’ve followed the process through correctly.
Filtering the review of a genuine customer could do more damage to your business, than solve anything… because that customer could go to some other medium to vent: Keep in mind that it’s really a good thing that your customers post their comments on MenuMania – where you have the ability to communicate with ‘real people’ who work at the website about the reviews, rather than the reviewer posting something negative on Google or Trip Advisor or their Facebook pages/ Twitter…. where you have absolutely no control!
This is a great article I found that reinforces some of these ideas: http://www.marketingfirst.co.nz/2012/02/how-to-handle-negative-reviews-about-your-business/
We wish you all the best with your business.