Torsten Petersen

Here's how Enchilada handles negative reviews

Torsten Petersen, Managing Director Enchilada Group
© Enchilada Gruppe
Torsten Petersen, Managing Director Enchilada Group

React quickly and professionally and show attitude: Torsten Petersen, managing director and shareholder of Enchilada Franchise GmbH, gives tips on dealing with negative reviews in this guest article.

With the end of the lockdown in May, the year really began for us restaurateurs: finally being a host again, finally having people around you again, and finally having a bit of cheerfulness and exuberance back. It didn't take long to get back into the spirit of what had been missing for a long time. The guests were also happy and turned up in large numbers.

But with some delay the aftermath of the pandemic caught up with us so far: Departed staff suddenly missing from every corner, huge increases in commodity prices necessitating price adjustments in some places, and dishes temporarily removed from the menu due to ingredient supply issues are just a few of the new challenges.

Factors like these - combined with the fact that parts of the population consider the Corona measures at least superfluous - have confronted us with a larger number of dissatisfied or even resentful guests. Larger number means, at least in our more than 70 restaurants: significantly more than usual.

Particularly noticeable was a significant increase in the number of negative reviews in online portals, as well as an increase in the number of incidents in the establishments, most of which had to do with hygiene and distance rules. The question that arose for us: How do we deal with this? After all, every guest is even more valuable than before the pandemic.

Our overriding strategy in these cases is characterized by the maxims "react quickly and professionally" and "show a consistent attitude". This means that, of course, depending on the individual case, we almost always respond to negative posts. One important measure here is that our team of communications and social media professionals in the Reputation Management department at headquarters takes over the response to negative comments on online portals from the managing director concerned in the case of potentially sensitive content.

We are convinced that, on the one hand, experts are needed to formulate the responses to negative postings and, on the other hand, people should write the responses who are not involved. Because - also this was noticeable in the past weeks and months - in many cases discussions in enterprises became fast emotional.

In concrete terms, this means that if there was a negative evaluation on one of the online portals and if this evaluation contained certain key words, we signalled to the managing director that we would take over further communication here. The goal must always be to provide a factually convincing response to the mostly emotional reviews. Ideally this leads to a quick end of the argument.

This article has been shortened. Read the full article in the October issue of foodservice (German). Read now!