Owning a restaurant is a lot of hard work, and when someone leaves a negative restaurant review, it can be difficult not to get angry. You've put a lot of effort and energy into your restaurant, and it's difficult to separate yourself and understand that sometimes, people will be unhappy with the service or food that you delivered.
But in the age of the Internet, you have to know how to respond to negative reviews the right way.
Oftentimes, bad restaurant reviews are there to help you better understand how to make your customers happy. If you ignore these reviews, it will reflect negatively on your business and can damage your brand.
Responding to Bad Reviews Using These 4 Tips
If you’re not sure how to respond to a bad review, these few tips can help:
1. Listen to the Customer
Whether you disagree or agree, there's a customer who has a problem with the service that you’ve provided. If you don't listen to your patrons, this can lead to long-term revenue loss. Your customers are the people you want to listen to when trying to improve your service.
Make sure that you take every complaint seriously. Try your best to respond in a way that is understanding and shows that you care about what this customer is talking about.
Once you've listened to your customer, you can use some of the following tips that we're going to discuss to help you respond in a way that can change a negative review into a positive one.
2. Don’t Try to Prove the Customer Wrong
There are a lot of restaurant review examples that have owners or managers of a restaurant being very defensive. These responses are not going to help you improve your brand's image.
What you should do is listen to the customer and ask what you could have done better.
If the customer complains that the food was cold, you can ask them when they ordered and also offer them a discount to make them happier. You want to approach each negative review in a way that makes the customer happy. You don't want to be giving away food to everyone who complains, but you do want to show that you were at least listening to the issues that they have and trying to correct them at your establishment.
3. Ask Questions
Want to know how to respond to negative restaurant reviews? One way is to continually ask questions instead of being defensive. When you ask questions, you are showing the customer that you care while also allowing yourself to find out the core reason why a negative review was left in the first place.
Questions allow you to diagnose the problem.
For example, if the individual stated that they had poor service and that the waitress was not attentive, you could ask them to call you to discuss the issue or ask them who the waitress was and what they ordered.
You can also ask them what the wait time was as well as what your establishment can do to bring them back in for a second chance.
If you research how to respond to negative reviews examples, you find that a lot of owners apologizing for the issues that the consumer had at their restaurant. Being apologetic shows that you’re acknowledging that there was a problem and will work your best to fix it.
After all, you need to find a way to make your customers happy and show that you're being genuinely apologetic at the same time.
Of course, you shouldn't beg for forgiveness, but you should show that you are open to the negative feedback and will take all measures possible to correct the issue. Consumers that are leaving negative reviews are going to help you strengthen your restaurant over time. It's important to listen to every complaint that comes your way and even log them so that you can find ways to improve the service that you're offering.
There are going to be times when a negative review is completely unjustified or untrue. If this is the case, you can apologize without too much worry. But if the review is so negative that it may impact your business, be sure to ask the reviewer when they came into your establishment and rebut any major complaints that are 100% false.
Rebuttals should not be done often, but it should be done when it is an extreme case that may damage your business’s reputation and is considered slander rather than truth.
Once you know how to respond to negative reviews about a restaurant, you’ll also need to know a few of the top questions asked before responding to reviews.
FAQs When Responding to Negative Restaurant Reviews
Should Restaurant Owners Respond to Negative Reviews?
In most circumstances, an owner can and should respond to negative reviews about their business. The one exception is when the owner is too emotionally involved and will start to attack customers for the reviews that they leave.
It's fine to disagree with your customers, but it’s not fine to attack them in any way.
If you're the type of owner who gets very emotionally charged when someone leaves a negative review, you may want to wait a day or two before responding. If you allow your emotions to control what you're saying, you may hurt your business more than help it by responding to the reviews.
Do Negative Reviews Impact Restaurant Revenues?
Revenue can drop significantly if you have one- or two-star reviews. A study found that businesses with one to one-and-a-half stars suffered revenue losses of at least 33%. Forbes found that companies that have bad reviews are avoided by 94% of consumers.
If you're not actively trying to respond to these reviews and correct the issues that consumers have with your restaurant, you're likely to suffer a revenue loss that can be significant.
Should You Respond to Positive Restaurant Reviews?
Yes, but you should be responding to both positive and negative reviews. When you respond to positive reviews, you're showing your audience that you're active on social media and paying attention to what they think about your restaurant.
Consumers in today's busy world want to know that they’re spending their money in a place that respects them and listens to their problems.
When you respond to all reviews that are left, you're showing your audience that you value what they say and you're also helping build your brand value. People will begin to know who you are, know your name, and also recognize you when they go into your restaurant.
For more on dealing with restaurant reviews: