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How To Respond To Negative Reviews On Your Restaurant

October 10, 2020

Ali Soudi - Head of Digital Marketing

Ali Soudi

Head of Digital Marketing
Hospitality

Article Overview

10min read

Reviews help restaurants improve on their service and indicate areas of improvement for the restaurant owners and staff alike. Negative ones can especially be viewed as an opportunity to show the restaurant’s quick response time to solve any prevailing issues which can then be turned into an effective restaurant marketing strategy. 

Research has proven that close to 45% of customers are likely to visit restaurants that quickly respond to negative reviews. Unfortunately, it is not a practice commonly utilized by restaurants although up to 33% [of restaurants] claim that their biggest challenge is attracting and retaining guests.

Keep reading for a guide on responding to negative reviews on your restaurant.

Begin By Understanding The Review 

While it sounds simple, many often miss the entire point of the review in their haste to respond. Ideally, you must read the review multiple times to truly understand the complaint.

Look for hidden nuances and note down the facts. These include the date, the exact problem, and the name of the server and/or other staff member involved in the complaint. You must also note the tone of the problem – are they upset, angry, or plain frustrated?

Address The Reviewer By Name When Responding

A personalized response is vital to every response and starting your reply with the displayed name is a good way to get off on the right foot. You do need to respond as soon as possible but don’t be too quick either. Read the review out loud so you can get a better grip on the problem and the levels of emotion. 

Furthermore, personalize your message by mentioning specific details from the original response or off your restaurant’s data of the reviewer – for example, this could be a specific dish they ordered. 

Sympathize And Apologize

A customer who posts a negative review wants an apology from the management and you must give them that. Reiterate that the experience felt by the customer is far below the expected standards and that you are immensely sorry to hear of the incident.

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An apology humanizes the entire situation – nobody likes to visit a restaurant that is bullish and refuses to accept that a mistake has been made. On the other hand, everyone understands that people make mistakes, and owning up to it will go a long way in smoothing over rough edges.  

Offer A Solution

Follow up an apology with a rough outline of the measures you will take to prevent the issue from happening again. For instance, the complaint could be by a customer angry about long wait lines. You should respond by apologizing for the long wait lines, empathize with their feelings and assure them that you will be better prepared for handling long lines next time. 

Always be careful about your tone. You must be very careful to avoid getting personal. Remember that a lot more people are going to read your response than just the reviewer.

Final Thoughts

A negative review isn’t the end of the world. More often than not, they will help you finetune and iron out issues present in your restaurant and customer experience. Working with a restaurant consultancy to create a template and set of guidelines will help come up with a consistent response mechanism that will win disgruntled customers and inspire confidence in new guests looking to visit your restaurant for the first time. 

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Most guests do not expect the perfect experience but they do want any complaints to be acknowledged and assured that steps are being taken to prevent it from occurring repeatedly. If everything goes right, you will receive a favorable response back and even convince the customer to give you a second chance. 

Ali Soudi

Ali Soudi

Head of Digital Marketing

Ali Soudi is a Google Certified Digital Marketer with 10+ years of industry experience. He is a prolific writer on business-related topics, regularly contributing articles to leading digital marketing and business websites.

Ali Soudi

Ali Soudi

Head of Digital Marketing
Hospitality
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