An Example of Why Responding to Mediocre Reviews is Good for Business

Word spreads – fast. When your business starts to get “meh” reviews, it can entice others to jump on the band wagon; and without official response from the business, it often goes downhill from there. If you aren’t sure if you should respond to neutral or mediocre reviews, let me give you an example that will hopefully persuade you to do so.

Last week I stumbled upon the Yelp page of a newer local restaurant that had received a “so-so” review. It started off good, but quickly headed into negative land. The reviewer was nice enough to give the restaurant 4 of 5 stars despite her complaints about price and portion size:

This place is by far the best place for BBQ in Tehachapi. The only reason it doesn’t get 5 stars is because of the prices. We went when they first opened & we remembered getting huge portions of excellent food for the price.

However, we returned last night after about a year of not visiting and we were disappointed to find that the portions weren’t as big as when they first opened. The portions all fit on a styrofoam plate, you know the size you buy from the Dollar Tree.

The food is delicious, but highly overpriced. We will probably wait another year before we eat here again. So if you don’t mind paying extra for smaller, then this is a great place!

What I think is outstanding is how the restaurant owner responded to the review:

Response to neutral review on yelpThank you for your review. Amy, let me address your issues one at a time. First, the prices. We try very hard to put out a quality product. We use very good cuts of meat and only fresh seasonal produce. Almost everything on the menu is hand crafted. We do not cut corners here. Labor is extensive when you prepare your items this way. Food costs have gone up and up over the last few months. Go to the market and see for yourself. Also, the cost of fuel is just crazy. My distributors pass these costs onto me. We offer a variety of discounts. Everything from elder discounts to ASB (student) discounts and as always, Military discounts. We even do a cash discount so I do not have to pay credit card terminal fees and you the customer can save a little money. I eat at a lot of BBQ joints within a hundred mile radius so that we can see where we stand with our food and prices. I am happy to say that with prices, we are almost always lower! I even have take out menus from other BBQ restaurants in my restaurant to show to customers.

Portion size. We use portion control measures to ensure that people receive equal amounts of food. We weigh out the meat at the cut table to ensure meat portions and we use portion control scoops for the sides. We are still using the same scoops as we did when we opened. The weigh amounts on the meat have also stayed the same since we opened.

I have used the same size (10″) Styrofoam plate since we opened and I have never bought them from Dollar Tree (although I do shop there a lot for stuff for home). Here is the good news. We are very happy to announce that in the next few days we are making the leap up to Melamine plates and actual silverware. Look at that, were going fancy!

Come in and talk to me Amy. I am sure that we can find items on the menu that will not only please your taste buds, but also your pocket book.

As you can see, the owner has a natural knack for customer service and he’s translated that into a reply that not only kept the door open for his customer to experience new things about his business, but also addresses the issue for future customers without them having to ask. Instead of leaving this example to become bait for others to incite a flame war, the owner showed he is available and cares about the experience his customers have.

Many times, people use review sites to vent frustration. When a business is actively responding to reviews, potential reviewers know that they too can expect to get a response from the business. People who are complaining for the sake of complaining may be deterred from leaving a review in the first place and those that do should receive an appropriate response — This gives onlookers a feeling that the business cares.

Over the course of a few years, reviews and responses (or lack there-of) pile up. The difference between a business that ignores reviews and one that responds is the difference between a new customer and a missed opportunity.

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