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How to reply to negative reviews - 5 tips

Online reviews on sites like Yelp, Google and Facebook give people a chance to share their impressions not only with businesses but also with fellow customers. People pay great attention to such reviews in order to find the most suitable products, services matching their preferences and needs. That is why it is especially important for a restaurant business to learn how to reply to negative reviews. 

How to Respond to Bad Reviews
Negative reviews can sometimes be cruel, and replying to them is difficult. After reading a bad review one can get upset, and it is only natural. Every business owner is working hard to achieve perfection and earn the trust of the costumes, and bad reviews can impact our self-esteem and make us think that we are not doing our job well enough. In order not to let your emotions come out we suggest you step away from what you just read and try to get a clear head. What we want is to reach a calm mental state which will help you reply professionally. However, it’s better to reply as quickly as possible, preferably within 24 hours. 

It’s a good idea to have a well-written template prepared, so you can just copy paste it, inserting the necessary details.

Here’s a good example of such a template:

Dear [NAME], thanks for your comments. We are sorry your experience at our restaurant didn’t match your expectations. The quality of our service is our priority, so this was a rather uncommon situation.

We would like to make it up to you if you give us another chance. Please feel free to reach out to [NAME] with any comments or suggestions you might have. 

This could be your all-purpose template that we hope you won’t have to use very often. It’s a great point to start a further conversation if necessary. Try to take the rest of the communication in private, so you can settle the problem with each complaining guest separately.

Let’s explore some common examples of how a restaurant can respond to negative reviews.

We recommend that the apologizing part should occupy a relatively small percentage of your response (only about 13%). If you sound overly apologetic, this may look quite unprofessional. Your goal is to concentrate on your commitment to service, managing customer experience, and taking action to improve. 

1. Address the Reviewer by Name
Noone likes to be called with impersonal phrases like “Dear guest,” or “Dear customer.” The best way to start a response is to address the reviewer personally. It’s easy to personalize a message because most of the reviewers are writing from their Google or Facebook accounts. Calling a person by the name makes a huge difference.

2. Say Thank You
Any feedback is valuable and it helps your business improve in the first place. That is why, do not forget to say how much you appreciate a person’s opinion, even if it is negative. Just the mere fact of bringing it to your attention is a good thing: “Thank you for letting us know about this. We are sorry you had a frustrating experience in our restaurant. Let us do right by  you if you give us a second chance.”

3. Say you're Sorry

Apologizing shows that you care about your customers and you are willing to do better.

Even if you think that the fault is not yours, say sorry anyway. This will certainly strengthen trust between your restaurant and the customer. Besides, customers tend to turn down businesses that never apologize.

Like we already mentioned before, keep your apologies short: “We apologize that our service did not match your expectations.”

4. Take Responsibility
Acknowledge the customer’s experience and do not try to make excuses. You can provide a brief explanation though. Always offer a way to fix things. It is actually less important what you say, but the main thing is what you decide to do to make it right. Reassure your client that you are striving to keep the high standards and deliver the best experience to your guests at your restaurant: “We take pride in our attention to detail and we regret that your experience did not meet your expectations”.

5. Ask for a Chance to Make it Up to Them
Don’t turn your back on bad reviewers. Reach out to them instead. Make sure you invite them to come back to dine with you. And when they do, try to go the extra mile for them. 

This way, you will have an opportunity to reestablish trust and turn your bad reviewers into your most loyal ambassadors. A nice and professional thing to say is: “I would appreciate a chance to earn your trust back and make it right. Please reach out to me directly next time you visit [Restaurant Name]”. 

Managing online reviews can get frustrating, but once you get a grasp of it, it will pay off in the future. It’s a great way to grow your reputation, become more visible and attract more customers. Negative online reviews are a common issue even for the most exceptional businesses. Make sure to talk to your clients and offer ways to improve. 

Want more tips on running your restaurant business? Read more articles on Tawreed blog. Be sure to contact us if you are looking for reliable suppliers for your restaurant.