When diners have a good restaurant experience, they can’t wait to share every detail with friends, family, in OpenTable reviews — and on social media. But even when OpenTable has helped you find the right restaurant, things can go wrong while you’re there. We spoke to two top restaurateurs for their tips for giving a restaurant feedback to help you resolve issues and have a meal to remember.
Do act in the moment
Maybe your steak wasn’t cooked to your liking. Or maybe you aren’t thrilled with the table you’ve been seated at. Whatever the issue, right away is the correct answer as to when you should speak up or reach out. “The worst thing a guest can do is wait until the end of the meal to say something because then we have no chance to turn things around at that point – but the next worst thing would be saying everything was fine, leaving, and two days later complaining online,” says John Winterman, managing partner of James Beard Award-winning restaurant Bâtard in New York City (pictured below).
At Zocalo in Sacramento, chef Ryan Rose and his A-team staff led by manager Eric Anderson respond to feedback, big or small, good or bad. “When we handle it at that time, guests don’t have to spend longer than necessary upset and mulling over whatever happened, so it prevents unnecessary and prolonged stress,” says Anderson. Be it a tardy drink order or an overseasoned sauce, “When you have something that deserves manager attention, flag us down or let an employee know – we’re deeply interested in your experiences, whether they are good or bad because at the end of the day, we’re here to take care of you, whatever that entails.”
Do deliver compliments in person
Restaurant staffers are hardworking professionals who strive to elevate hospitality to an art. If you’re having a terrific experience, let them know over the course of your meal. Customers who leave positive feedback solely online may not receive a response at all – this is not purposeful, but a reflection of the state of online commentary. “Not everyone, including myself, can check all the places people can comment online and each of those mediums seems to prompt for a review,” says Winterman. However, using platforms that restaurants can easily monitor — like OpenTable reviews — is a good place to go. But, for a truly personal touch, deliver your positive remarks while you’re at the restaurant as well.“
Do leave honest reviews on OpenTable
With more than 80 million verified diner reviews, OpenTable reviews are a valuable discovery tool for diners. You can assist your fellow foodies by leaving praise and tips that will benefit them by helping them discover a new favorite spot — and restaurateurs — here. They’re also helpful for folks who find themselves tongue-tied in the moment as you can leave a private note to the restaurant if you don’t wish to leave everything in your review. Further, you can also allow a restaurant to contact you directly when leaving your review on OpenTable. In this way, you can continue the conversation offline and at length so restaurants can continue to improve.
Don’t rant on social media
Don’t take to social media to complain further. After leaving your review, if there is more you’d like to share with the restaurant, e-mail is your best bet. “For those guests uncomfortable making a complaint in person, an email is always fine, and we believe that problems are a time to shine, so this philosophy plays a major role in our manager training,” says Anderson. “We still prefer receiving criticism in-house only because it provides an opportunity for us to turn the situation around right then and there and make things right.” Winterman agrees, “If [sharing feedback] is not possible in the moment, at least contact the manager a day or two later to express your concerns.
Don’t be overly emotional
Even when the stakes are high, say you’re having a special anniversary dinner, and something has gone awry, it’s best to handle the situation in a non-emotional and respectful way. “My wife once had a complaint about service in a well-regarded hotel and it seemed to fall on deaf ears at the concierge desk, but she was able to find the general manager and explain our disappointment,” Winterman says. “The manner in which my wife complained is telling – she was calm and rational, sharing how she looked forward to something only to find the expectation un-met.” He says she never attacked or accused the staff but merely relayed the information. “We have been back to the hotel three times since then due to the professional way in which they handled our complaint,” he adds. Restaurants should — and the good ones will — react similarly.
Do dine again
Contrary to what some diners might believe, Winterman says the highest form of praise is not an online review. It’s a repeat visit. If a restaurant’s staff has rectified your issues satisfactorily, give them your business on another occasion. And remember to leave a review on OpenTable every time you do.
Tell us your do’s and don’ts for giving a restaurant feedback here or over on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.