Negative reviews are an inescapable part of owning a restaurant. While it may sometimes be frustrating or disheartening to read a negative review, how you respond can make all the difference.
In the age of social media, people rely on reviews to make informed decisions. In fact, a study by Canvas8 and Trustpilot study found that 90% of consumers read product reviews before making a purchase decision. Hence the importance of taking the reviews seriously and working on improving your customer service to the best of your ability.
In this article, we will go through the do’s and don’ts of responding to negative reviews and provide examples of how you can address them.
Here’s how to respond to a negative review on Facebook, Instagram, Tripadvisor, and other platforms:
1- Respond quickly
Letting a negative review linger online without being addressed can and will make things worse for your business. Instead, address the negative review promptly — within 24-48 hours— to show that you value customer feedback and are committed to resolving any issues.
2- Remain polite and professional; it’s not personal!
Negative reviews can sometimes be harsh and provocative. It is monumental that you stay calm in these situations. When you read such a review, take a few minutes from the computer before responding. Remember that it’s not personal, and whatever feeling you might be experiencing, remember to sound polite, professional, and sympathetic regardless of the tone used by the customers.
3- Thank the customer for their feedback
Whether the review is positive or negative, always express appreciation for the customer’s time and effort in providing their review. This demonstrates that you value their opinion and encourages them to leave positive reviews when they’re satisfied with your service.
4- Offer a solution
Offering a solution can go a long way in changing how customers feel about your business. If they are unhappy with a certain employee, tell them that you have taken the necessary measures in that regard. If they have a major problem with food, offer a discount, a refund, or a freebie to show them that you are willing to go the extra mile for them and to encourage them to give your restaurant a second shot.
5- Take the conversation offline
The most efficient thing you can do is to reach out to the unsatisfied customer privately. In some situations, for example, if the customer was disrespected or a serious altercation arose, it may be appropriate to call the customer or send a private message to apologize and try to make up for their bad experience. This gesture can go a long way, showing your commitment to preserving your customer base. Alternatively, you can invite the customer to email or message you. That way, they will feel free to follow up with their review.
Here’s what you should NOT do while responding to negative reviews:
1- Don’t delete negative reviews
Ignoring a negative review is bad enough, but deleting them can backfire enormously.
Firstly, when the customer notices that you deleted their review, they may escalate and take it to all your other platforms and harm your reputation.
Secondly, when you keep the negative reviews up, you amp up your authenticity. People tend to trust businesses with some negative reviews more than businesses with no negative reviews. One study has shown that 85% of consumers look for negative reviews to make informed decisions.
Lastly, negative reviews allow people to see how you respond. When you show professionalism and calmness, you become more respectable in the eyes of your customers.
However, if you suspect the review is not from a genuine source, conduct some investigation. If your suspicion is justified, it is advisable that you delete the fake reviews.
2- Don’t get defensive or argumentative
Even if you’re in the right, responding defensively can exacerbate the issue and reflect poorly on your business. Instead, stay calm, avoid personal attacks, and focus on finding a resolution.
3- Don’t make excuses or shift the blame
The last thing you want to do when responding to a negative review is to find excuses or blame external factors. Instead, take responsibility for any shortcomings and focus on finding a solution.
4- Don’t use a generic or robotic response
When replying to negative online reviews, personalize your response as much as possible. Using generic or copy-paste responses can come across as insincere and may worsen the situation. Instead, address the customer by name and be genuine while maintaining professionalism.
Examples of Negative Reviews and Responses
Example 1: Disappointing Service and Food Quality
Review: I recently dined at [Restaurant Name] and was thoroughly disappointed with the experience. The service was incredibly slow, and the staff seemed disinterested.
Moreover, the food quality was subpar. My steak was overcooked and lacked flavor. I expected better from a restaurant with such high ratings. Will not be returning.
Response: We apologize for your disappointing experience at [Restaurant Name]. Slow service, disinterested staff, and subpar food quality are not indicative of our standards. We take your feedback seriously and are addressing these issues with our team to ensure improvements. We would appreciate the opportunity to make it up to you. Please get in touch with us directly so we can personally ensure a remarkable dining experience.
Example 2: Brief negative reviews.
If the customer’s review was brief and did not include any details, ask them if they are willing to share more details.
Review: This place sucks. Will not be returning!
Response: “We’re sorry that your experience with our restaurant was unsatisfactory. Would you mind sharing more details? We would love to learn more from you.”
Example 3: Inconsistent Service and Long Wait Times
Review: “I’ve been to [Restaurant Name] multiple times, and the service is consistently inconsistent. On some visits, the staff is attentive and friendly, but they’re disorganized and inattentive on other occasions. The wait time is also ridiculous, even with a reservation. It’s frustrating and takes away from the dining experience.”
Response: “Hello [Customer Name], thank you for sharing your feedback. We apologize for the inconsistent service you’ve experienced during your visits to [Restaurant Name]. We understand the importance of reliable and attentive service and are taking immediate action to address this issue with our staff.
We appreciate your loyalty and hope you’ll give us another chance to provide you with a seamless and enjoyable dining experience. Please get in touch with us directly so we can ensure your next visit exceeds your expectations. Thank you.”
Example 4: Terrible Customer Service and Rude Staff
Review: I had an awful experience at [Restaurant Name]. The customer service was abysmal, with rude and inattentive staff. I felt unwelcome and unimportant. It was utterly disappointing!
Response: “Dear [Customer Name], we appreciate you taking the time to provide your feedback regarding your recent visit to [Restaurant Name].
We extend our sincerest apologies for the terrible customer service you encountered. It’s disheartening to hear about your experience as it does not reflect our standards. We value each and every guest, and we’re committed to ensuring exceptional service.
We are addressing this matter with our staff and conducting additional training to improve our customer interactions. We hope to have the opportunity to regain your trust and provide you with the dining experience you deserve.
Please reach out to us directly if you would like to discuss this further. Thank you.”
We hope that these examples make replying to negative reviews a breeze! Remember to stay calm and professional and try to sound personal, not generic.
Negative reviews are a blessing in disguise. They help you uncover issues and inconsistencies in your restaurant and work towards solving them. Ultimately, the way you respond to negative comments can make or break your restaurant’s reputation. Therefore, be sure to address the reviews quickly and maintain the level of professionalism your customers expect from you. So calm down, reflect, and type responsibly!
Additionally, we would like to introduce you to Partoo. A platform that enables you to manage, modify, and publish your store information across the web on multiple channels. With Partoo, you can administer one or more businesses seamlessly from one app and easily manage and respond to customers’ feedback and reviews.