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Loyalty and Social Media: How to Keep Restaurant Guests During Conflict

As has been proven time and again by real life situations, the most loyal clients are those whose unexpected and even unpleasant situations have been handled effectively through communication with a brand. And be wary - the professional and timely behavior of you and your staff could be what turns a displeased client into a trusted ally.



Social Media as an Important Method of Restaurant Marketing Communication
Delivery delay, slow service, prickly personnel - unfortunately, negative experiences of communication with a brand seem to be seared into a client’s memory forever, while the good shrivel into insignificance. And by all accounts, there’s nothing a disgruntled customer loves more than broadcasting their woes with the whole world.
Social networks remain one of the most popular types of marketing communication regarding coverage and information dissemination rate. Sooner or later every restaurant has to start a dialogue with guests on social networks to attract a new target audience and to retain already loyal clients. Fortunately for restaurants, communication with guests is becoming a more and more automated process that saves both time and money.

For example, the mobile loyalty program provided by LoyaltyPlant allows to communicate confidentially with guests and to answer their responses directly in the mobile app.
A good strategy is always to award some points or give a present to the client 
in apology. This simple gesture easily improves relations with the user. If the client wants to share their experience on various social networks, then potential audiences will be able to evaluate the caliber of your reaction and behavior. This is the head of the conflict - afterwards, everyone will move on and forget about it.
However, remember that dissatisfied customers like to complain - and not only to the company at fault. They very well may take to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media to air their grievances, tarnishing your image publicly. 
This begs the question: what is necessary when an upset restaurant guest has left a negative comment on your public page?

5 Basic Rules For Handling Negative Responses

There are several basic rules on how to solve basic situations of conflict. These few steps will minimize negative attitudes towards your brand and theoretically transform your former adversary into an unwavering client.


Don't Ignore Negative Responses
One of the most frequent mistakes when maintaining social networks is ignoring negative responses. Such tactics may garner several different results. First, there is a chance that the client will be tired of waiting for an answer and simply will no longer return to your brand. This means that you will lose a formerly loyal client. The second possibility is that the client will continue to post more emotionally aggravated messages, and your indifference towards clients will sway the opinions of other loyal customers against the company.


Don't Delete Unfavorable Responses
The opinion that no comment means no problem is the wrong one. The fact is that there is always a dissatisfied client who will be less than pleased when their comment is deleted. Such a decision will only stir his discontent 
further, until it boils into a full-on face-off between you and the client. After the client notices you’ve deleted the comment, there will be a new, more emotional one, and after that, another - more and more until you are, at last, forced to address the client and attempt to remedy the situation. 
What conclusion can we draw from this? Sooner or later the comment must be answered, but if you do it immediately, it will probably garner the most 
favor for your company. The only other result for you in this situation is a considerable loss in image.


Don't Ban Problematic Clients
Let’s assume, you have decided to ignore all negative responses, delete them and ban the author of these comments in your community. You may be guided by the false principle “no negative client - no negative comment - no problem”. Well, it’s true that you’ll be able to remove the negative comments from your page, but reviews of your work will still appear in third-party communities, particularly on pages of competitors, and your reputation may suffer a serious impact.


Answer Publicly
You should hold any discourse with a client through private messaging only when private details are being discussed (for example, order details). All other comments made by the company should be public in order to show that problems are always solved, and solved efficiently, at that.


Always Offer A Solution, But Never Make An Excuse

In your response to the comment, try and propose the best, most appropriate problem, but never make an excuse. The cause of every mistake contains some human element or production error that won’t and shouldn’t be interesting to the client. Your main task is to reassure the client that measures are being taken in order to avoid similar situations in the future.


3 Pieces of Advice To Keep In Mind When Handling Negative Situation:

Speedy Response
Answer any negative response as quickly as possible - within a few hours is the ideal time period. (The maximum time allowed should be within a day).
Be polite in every situation! Don't forget to apologize first.
Remember that clients’ comments are not directed at you personally, so keep emotion out of your responses and address the situation politely and without offense. 

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