How to Handle Online Complaints and Bad Reviews

Posted by Tim on March 21, 2014

Has your restaurant ever been blindsided by an online complaint?  It doesn’t matter if it’s about your online business, or an in-restaurant experience – it’s not a good feeling.  Whether it’s legitimate, or something totally unwarranted – you need to know how to respond. 

Often it’s based on a misunderstanding or a failure to respond early, when a complaint is fresh.  A recent webinar from the National Restaurant Association had some tips on how to respond to these online complaints.

• Don’t be the last person to find out about a problem at your restaurant, or with a takeout order. Get familiar with the tools.  Use Google Alerts, monitor Yelp.  Have systems in place. 

• This isn’t personal, so don’t get defensive.  Your goal is to neutralize these incidents. 

• Take responsibility online.  Denying that it happened is usually the wrong tactic.  If it’s a completely false or bogus complaint, contact the site (i.e. Yelp) and have them remove it. 

• Get the response public and prominent.  Don’t be the 75th person to comment.  Tell the complainant that you want make it right.  Make sure everyone sees it. 

• Treat your online communication as carefully and as thoughtfully as you would in-person.  You don’t want these things going viral.

• If you are posting online, keep everything positive.  If a customer persists with negativity, take the conversation offline by suggesting they call you. 

• Train employees with your approach to handling complaints so that your staff speaks in one voice. 

• If complaints are routine or happening in patterns, it can indicate a weakness in your operation.  Use that information to your benefit and correct the issues. 

Be persistent to make things right.  People tend to remember the last thing you did for them.  It could be a big problem or small dilemma, but if you bend over backwards to make things right, that’s what they will remember most. 


New NetWaiter Features Make it Easier to do Business

Posted by Tim on March 21, 2014

In a blog post earlier this month, we talked about how NetWaiter’s online ordering system can help you cater to increased demand for customization - requests for extra meat, double avocado, or other add-ons.

To help accommodate these requests, in addition to upselling the order, it’s important to include any paid option as a selection customers can click to add.  But what happens if a customer enters a separate request in the Special Instructions field that should incur an additional charge?

These special instructions, which restaurants are happy to fulfill, can cause a difficulty when an order is pre-paid. Do you honor the request for extra turkey, even though you haven’t been paid for it, or do you hold off and not include it?

To address this, NetWaiter has developed a Secondary Transaction Feature to allow a restaurant to run a separate charge on a customer’s card, after the initial transaction, to pay for that special request.

This is also a handy feature to add a tip.  A customer may not have thought about a tip when placing their online order, but the Secondary Transaction Feature allows delivery drivers to add a tip to an order, after the initial payment, if the customer tells them to.

Another new addition to NetWaiter is the Hidden Item list.  NetWaiter has always allowed restaurants to “hide” items on their menu, most often because the kitchen has run out of a key ingredient or the item was a limited special that may come back in the future.

This new feature shows “All Hidden Items” in one section of the Management Console for easy management.  Managers can see all items on their menu that are hidden, in one place, and then unhide those that they want to be available again.


Women Like Online Ordering, Too.

Posted by Tim on July 15, 2011

Most families agree, “If Mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy.”

If Moma not happy...

It turns out this also applies to online ordering.  Last month we mentioned a study by Cornell University about online ordering.  The sample group was split almost evenly by gender - women making up 51.3% of respondents, similar to the percentage of women in the U.S.  However, the similarities stopped there.  There were several areas where women’s attitudes towards online marketing were substantially different than men - and in interesting ways.

Here are the revelations:

--Women were more likely to cite having control of their order as a benefit of online ordering.

--Women were more likely to cite the convenience factor of online ordering as an important benefit.

--Women were more likely to recommend the online ordering experience to others.

What does this mean?  Well – it certainly tells us not to discount women as valuable online customers.  In fact, the majority of online orders for most restaurants are from women.  The marketing efforts put into telling customers about online ordering - specifically when engaging customers inside your restaurant - need to be directed towards women as much (if not more) than men. 

It may be the ‘man-of-the-house’ picking up the order, but the woman probably made the final decision where the family was going to get their food that night – and chances are – she placed the order too.

Communicating the Benefits of Online Ordering to Employees

Posted by Tim on September 12, 2010

Communicating with Employees

It's common for restaurant employees to be familiar with the daily specials or a new dessert that hasn’t yet made it to the menu, but are you using your wait staff to their fullest when it comes to promoting your online ordering system?

Maybe not.

Make sure that your waiters and waitresses can inform customers about your online menu and ordering site.  Talk about how convenient it is for customers - reduced wait time, greater accuracy, and easy accessibility.  You can even demonstrate it to them at a staff meeting.

Also, make sure your employees are well versed on all of the latest features.  For instance, in the last few months, NetWaiter has added an ordering interface with Facebook, and more recently, the easy ability for customers to order from their mobile phones.  Your employees can help spread the word about new capabilities.

Some employees may be concerned that referring customers to your online menu will reduce their ability to make tips.  This is certainly not an issue.  Tipping is part of the ordering and dining experience.  If they help to create happy customers, they are going to get tips, and online ordering definitely makes for happier customers.


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