Social media consultant Heather McNeil.
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Socially Savvy: Uneven Service

Heather McNeil - June 16th, 2014

Heather McNeil is an online reputation manager and the author of Exceeding Expectations: How Yelp! Can Help. A 25 year veteran of the restaurant business, McNeil consults business owners on best practices when responding to online reviews. She has a new webinar series, “How Yelp! Can Help: Increasing Revenues through Engagement and Recovery.” For more information, read Online and On Top and visit

Comment: My boyfriend and I decided to try this place out for our 2 year anniversary. The food was great, however the service was definitely not what I expected. I immediately noticed after being seated that our server Jon P. was not open and friendly. He did nor did he [sic] introduce himself or any of the menus and I had to ask him to bring the complimentary bread. Later on an older couple sat next to us, and he provided them with great service. I am not sure, but I feel like we were discriminated on base [sic] on the fact that we look young. Regardless, the service should have been consistent with every table.

I voiced my concerns to the manager who was apologetic, however he told us that they were very busy earlier which was probably why our server had provided us with sub-par service. Busy or not, there should be no excuse for lousy service – ever. Mandy C. One Star.

Response: Hi Mandy,

First, I'm very sorry for the service you received. You are absolutely correct that being “busy” is no excuse for inferior service. Frankly, there is never an excuse for inferior service. Discrimination based on age, or any other characteristics, is not tolerated by our company. Especially in today's world, it is a big mistake to judge by appearances; they are “not always as they seem,” as we know. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with our manager. I can assure you, not only was your server counseled, but our entire staff was addressed on the importance of making each and every guest feel valued. After all, we are in the hospitality business. Friendly and efficient services are baseline expectations that should be exceeded with every guest, every time.

Inferior dining experiences are bad enough, but when they happen on special occasions, it is an additional disappointment. These are memory building opportunities, and I truly wish we could have left you with a better one on your anniversary. Would you consider speaking to me by phone? You can message me your contact information right here or email me at

Again, my sincerest apology.

This sort of response will almost always prompt a conversation that leads to a real recovery. The key is to put yourself in the place of the guest and think, “What would I need to hear right now to make me want to return to this restaurant?” The apology should come first; followed by an acknowledgement of the incident and lastly the steps you took to ensure it wouldn’t happen again.

In addition to the recovery, every (potential) guest who reads this review will know that your restaurant takes every comment seriously, that you care about every guest sincerely, and that you take specific action when mistakes are made. Building trust before a guest steps foot into your restaurant has been previously unattainable. Thanks to the ability to respond publicly on Yelp, every restaurant that seizes this opportunity can reap substantial rewards.