How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews

The internet has been flooded with online restaurant reviews. From Yelp to TripAdvisor, OpenTable to Google - reviews for your restaurant are everywhere.

And it just so happens some of them are negative.

It's the nature of the beast. Not everyone is going to rave about your restaurant. But, there's an opportunity to respond to the negative reviews and ultimately keep your glowing restaurant reputation alive.

By getting involved in online reviews, it shows you're active online. You want every customer to enjoy their experience at your restaurant.

But, how do you respond to reviews and still keep a customer - even if their experience was sub-par?

Here’s a couple of tips to help you build a better online reputation, engage with customers, and repair any damage that may have been done.

5 tips to keep in mind before you respond to online reviews:


1. The internet is watching

You’re not just talking to one customer about their bad experience. You’re talking to everyone: new customers, loyal customers, tourists, etc. They’re all reading the online reviews. They’re making judgements about your restaurant before they even open your front door. This means you’ve got to watch what you say - which leads right into the second tip.


2. Address their concerns - don’t be defensive

As we’ve seen in the past (with Amy's Bakery in Scottsdale,AZ), social media and online reviews can get dicey. And you can lose customers faster than ever before. That means you’ve got to be careful about how you respond. Firstly, address their concerns. Realize you or a member of your staff may have screwed up. It’s not the customer’s fault. Don’t blame them. They had a bad experience - take the fall for your mistakes. The plain and simple rule: don’t start an argument.


3. Offer the chance to try your restaurant again

If someone wasn’t happy with your service, what would you do? You’d offer to make it right...right? That’s what you should do with upset customers. Offer them 10% off their bill, a free appetizer, or prime seating on your deck. Give them a reason to come back and give your restaurant another shot. Who knows? You could turn their opinion around!


4. Write your response out first - then read it over.

Just like bloggers and authors, you’re writing important content. Content that shapes how people view you online. That’s why you need to work on writing reviews when you’re fresh and rested. Write the review in Word or notepad and then let it sit for a few hours. Then, come back and sit down. Have you said what you wanted to? Does it address the concern of the reviewer and give them a reason to try your restaurant again? If not, work on your response until it does both of those things.


5. Don’t single out the negative reviews

There’s also glowing reviews, and so-so reviews, too. Don’t just respond to the negative reviews because that makes your restaurant seem defensive of the negative reviews. Truth is, some people are going to hate your restaurant (even if you’re James Beard award-winning) and some will LOVE it. Respond to those reviews, too. You’re asking for them, so people have gone above and beyond to leave their thoughts. Engage with them!

Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth. They can make or break your restaurant. That’s why responding to reviews in a timely (and professional) manner is important for your online reputation.

Have questions on how you should respond? Just send us an email and we’ll help you craft the perfect response.


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