How To Handle A Negative Restaurant Review

Online reviews can make or break your business—which is why it is very important to respond appropriately whenever you receive one! With 92% of consumers reporting that they read online reviews, making sure that you know how to handle the situation when things turn sour is extremely important. Here are three tips to help guide you through dealing with a bad review.

1. Leave emotion out of your response

Let’s face it, your business means everything to you. It’s hard to keep cool when something you work so hard for is under attack. When you’re notified that someone has left you a 1-star review, your gut reaction is to retaliate and respond to put the negativity to rest – but be careful! A negative review may be completely out of left field, or at times justified (we can’t be perfect ALL the time) but the most crucial thing to remember, is that it’s important to be the bigger person in these situations. Just because someone else lost their cool does not mean that you should.

Additionally, you have more at stake here than they do. While a reviewer may be “untouchable” or anonymous online, you have to think about the public image of your business. How you handle a bad review can be a reflection to online readers of how you value customer service. So take a deep breath and try to not let this get under your skin.

Once you have your emotions settled, now it’s time to get down to responding to your review.

2. Admit if a mistake was made and defend your reputation

Nobody is perfect, nor does every night run smoothly at your restaurant. Unfortunately, after a stressful shift, someone pointing out that it was a rough night by leaving a bad review can be aggravating. But once you have your emotions in-check, it’s time to seriously consider what they have to say. Is there some truth to their critique?

When responding to negative reviews, we often find that being transparent and admitting fault when there was one, isn’t a bad thing. Customers really appreciate the honesty—and by apologizing and promising a better experience the next time, you reinforce that you do care about your customers and you’re willing to work on things to make amends.

That is not to say that you should ever let your customers dictate how you run your business. If what was left in the review is unsubstantiated or untrue (it happens sometimes), it’s very important to stand up for yourself—while also being polite. Address their concern, reinforce the high quality and standards that you set for your business, and offer advice for the future— such as the option to speak to a manager if one feels that their needs are not being serviced properly at the time of their visit.

3. Do not wait to respond to a negative review

Although we do suggest to let your emotions cool off before responding to a negative review, it is very important that you do not wait too long before responding. Addressing a customer’s concern sooner rather than later is not only appreciated by the person who left the review, but since everything is public on the internet, it is noticed by potential customers looking to try your business. Responding promptly, politely, and reasonably when faced with a negative review, shows that you care about your customers and are willing to do whatever you can to solve the issue and set the record straight.

In our experience it is best to reply to reviews within 48-72 hours of them being published. Timeliness is important not just for addressing concerns, but to better protect your business from the potential backlash that a bad review might generate. It’s about being proactive and showing that you care. This is something that all great businesses do, but with the rise in traffic to review sites, maintaining your online reputation is more important now than ever.

Remember – Responding to online reviews means that you care! 

Responding quickly and appropriately to your online reviews is one of the most important things that you can do to protect your business’ online reputation. While it is time consuming, the effort is never wasted as reviews can continue working for (or against) your business for months and years to come.

If you don’t have time to respond to all your reviews, or it just seems too confusing to manage keeping up with them, no need to worry —  We have a variety of options to work with any budget, and fulfill any of your business’ needs!

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