Peter DeCaprio: How to handle negative customer feedback – Our 5 essential steps

Since the birth of online reviews, business owners have been faced with how to respond to negative customer feedback.

With more and more people turning to the worldwide web for information about everything from the best places to eat to which plumber you can trust, it’s becoming ever more essential that businesses put a well thought out plan in place when they come under fire.

Customer experience specialists, Bazaarvoice reveal how businesses should react when facing criticism on sites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor…

Step 1: Take stock and identify where things went wrong

The first step when dealing with any issue is identifying what happened in order to take control of an unhappy situation. By taking time to assess the problem and understand how it arose, you can plan your next steps with greater confidence.

Step 2: Respond quickly and transparently

Engage with the customer in question as soon as possible, either via email or phone if they’ve left you their contact details. Apologies sincerely for what’s happened and offer to make it right by them (for instance through an apology, a refund or a follow up). It’s important to deal with customers in a timely fashion so they know you take their concerns seriously.

Step 3: Reassure your community that you take complaints seriously

Once you have contacted the person who raised the complaint directly, leave a comment on the site where your business has been reviewed – whether that is TripAdvisor, Facebook or Google+ Local. Make it clear that you are aware of the situation, apologise for what happened and reassure customers that you are making changes to stop it happening again. Feedback from others on TripAdvisor has shown that most users will be satisfied by this prompt response – if not by your action in Step 2!

Step 4: Look for opportunities within criticism

It’s true, not every complaint is without merit. Indeed some very unhappy customers have found ways to turn their negative experience into a positive one when they were offered the chance. By showing how you’ve listened carefully to what they had to say, acknowledged areas where things went wrong and taken steps to put them right, you can use complaints as an opportunity for improvement your business.

Step 5: Contact the reviewer, agree what you will do next and then do it

Finally, don’t forget to keep in touch with the customer who raised the complaint. If they’re happy, ask them if they’d be willing to update their review – perhaps even give the changes you’ve made another go. And if they are not happy? Well you now have a clear plan for dealing with feedback so there’s no reason why their concerns can’t be allayed…you just have to put your plan into action!

Here are some FAQs recently asked by our users: Peter DeCaprio

Q. What are some of the most annoying things customers do in a restaurant?

  1. Customers who sit at their table for hours without ordering are definitely one of the most annoying things that can happen to a server or bartender. It’s important not to be too quick to take away good china, silverware, and glassware simply because it is sitting on a table with no intention of being used that night.

Q. What are the most common types of complaints about wait staff?

  1. I have often heard many different types of complaints about wait staff over the years including:- Not refilling beverage glasses frequently enough Not providing straws for beverages Not serving bread prior to bringing entrees not checking back with customers frequently enough

Q. What are the main types of rude/abusive comments made about restaurant staff?

  1. I have often heard many different types of complaints about wait staff over the years including:- being ignored being given dirty silverware being served cold food being served incorrect orders not getting a server at all

Q. What are the most common types of complaints about restaurant management?

  1. I have often heard many different types of complaints about wait staff over the years including:- not informing customers of specials being slow to address customer concerns hiring too many/too few employees not having enough employees on hand at peak hours of business


In conclusion, it is very important from the viewpoint of a business to deal with negative customer feedback in a professional way. Peter DeCaprio states, The 5 essential steps that need to be taken when dealing with these complaints are:

  1. Deal with the complaint directly
  2. Reassure your community you take complaints seriously
  3. Look for opportunities within criticism
  4. Contact the reviewer and agree on what you will do next and then do it
  5. Keep in touch with the customer who raised the complaint if you follow these guidelines, it should help mitigate any future bad experiences for customers so they don’t have any reason to complain again!
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