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Why customers leave bad reviews:

Have you wondered why is it that people feel SO compelled to take time out of their busy day and go to these online review sites and leaving us a bad review?

Maybe if we feel the psychology behind this, we can do better in proactively tackle this and avoid making our beloved customer compelled to leave us a negative review.

Also, understanding what actually matters to our customers and pisses them off, can help us narrow our focus on those things that matter and will have the most impact in their experience.

Before we dive in, I’d like you to consider that average meal/ dish is around $10 (easy math). Then, consider that maybe their hourly rate is $10/hr.

So, they spent 1 hour of their life at a job that maybe they don’t even enjoy. Took that money, gave it to you and me for that dish!

It’s not about $10 but rather trading 1 hour of their life in return for a dish!

When you change your mindset and view it this way, then it’s easy to have empathy with our customers.

The food better be good, awesome experience and friendly service! People are giving us hard earned money and they have an expectation we better exceed!

We must respect this and feel honored that they are choosing to trade with us!

Are they asking a lot?

Not really! Having delicious food, served fast and with a friendly service are just bare bare minimum service we offer at our restaurants. So, no they are not expecting a lot.

Research shows that all customer complaints fall into one of these 3 categories:

52% Service issues

31% Product issues

16% Policy issues

So, the biggest chunk is SERVICE!

Service Issue:

This actually refers to how our service is perceived.

It starts with the basics. First impression, greeting the customer warmly, showing them gratitude. Take the time and answer their question. Maybe compliment them. These things are just basics.

Isn't it that pretty much all aspects of the restaurant business are basics.

People want a server who is polite, courtesy and shows gratitude. This hasn’t changed for decades and won’t ever! The human nature and desire never changes.

Product issues:

This refers to when you want your steak rare and get it well done since there is a new cook in the kitchen!

Or for a pizzeria, a customer despises black olives or even has a severe allergy to it. They mentioned that they do not want it, and there is it. You arrive home, open the pizza box and there are EXTRA black olives you didn’t want!

Order accuracy is critical to ensure this does not happen. This means, you need to have Quality Control (QC) checkpoints as throughout your restaurant.

Customer to server, server to cook, cook to expediter, expeditor to server, server to customer. These are your checkpoints!! You need to have processes in place where the dish and exactly how the customer wants it is verified.

This will ensure that we CATCH any product issue before the customer received the food.

Policy issues:

For instance one of our policies is stop delivering at 8 PM. which is an hour before closing.

Many times a customer will call at 8:03 PM. and imagine our servers telling the customer “oh the cut off time was 8 PM. sir. Sorry we won’t deliver”

How will that customer feel? On fire and not in a good way!

This is when a customer gets unhappy with our policy!

This goes back to the culture of your company. When the team understands our heart when serving. We tell our team, a customer is very hungry, they are standing there with money in their hands ready to give it to us and they are craving our food.

What do we do? We serve them. Period. We don’t want them to go to a competitor! As we always say “we cannot afford to lose customers”.

Also, it’s critical for the team to know and understand the WHY behind each policy in your company. That’s when they can discern if we need to make an exception forthe customer or not.

We serve customers who walk in even after closing all the time! Our team knows our heart. This is a culture issue also, it’s important to communicate it with finesse!

“Ma’am, we close at 9 PM. and it’s 9:07 PM. So we are closed, however, we are happy to make an exception for you.”

Wow. This makes the customer feel like VIP. That an exception was made for them because we value their business.

If we indeed value our customers and their business, then, we demonstrate it by how we go above and beyond for them.

Customers don’t appreciate rigid policies when they feel we don’t genuinely care to accommodate their needs.

Why do customer leave BAD reviews?

  1. They want to hear our sincerely apology! That we are sorry. They want to feel acknowledged. So, friend, be quick to apologize!

  2. They want to save other customers their $$$ and time from a bad experience at a restaurant. They feel robbed when they spent $50 at your establishment, there was an issue, they brought it up with the manager and the manager was unable to resolve the issue to their satisfaction. That’s when they feel “I better let everyone know!” Apparently around 73% of customers are motivated by that according to research. They want to save other people from having the same poor experience. So, whenever there is an issue brought up to you while they are at the restaurant, do your absolute best to resolve it right then and there. If a negative review is placed on one of your sites, address it immediately. Be quick to extend that olive branch, give them incentive to win their business BACK.

  3. 48% of customers who leave negative reviews say they do it because they want us to be more honest! Again, they want to perceive us as honest! If we are honest, but not perceived as such, they’d say we are not honest!! Yes. Perception is reality. When we fail to properly communicate how we operation, our pricing, our procedures and our policies. Then, this easily leads to miscommunication and misunderstanding. For instance, a customer wants to host a birthday party and we said oh we don’t charge for reservations. But then, we charge them and say that we don’t charge for reservations of parties less than 20 and ya’ll had 25 people in your party so “our policy” is to change $5 extra. This pisses the customer! It’s not about $5. It’s about coming across dishonest. One of the ways to combat this is by explaining to the customer the why behind our policies so the customer understands why we do what we do. But, this requires us training our front facing team so they KNOW our policies, and also they have been trained as to how properly communicate such details.

  4. Many customers leave a negative review because they seek a financial Reimbursement. This happens when they feel not satisfied with the value they received. The value did not exceed price they paid. And now, they want a refund. They work hard for their money and we honor that. A smart restaurant owner issues refunds in times like these with a cheerful attitude because we understand the lifetime value of that customer! Again, we let go of $20 because we want them to spend $600, $700 or more with us this year!

Hope this article was helpful. Once we understand the psychology behind why people leave negative reviews, we can do better in proactively tackling this and avoid making our beloved customer compelled to leave us a negative review.



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