How To Respond To Bad (and Good) Reviews

Sunny Stree

As a restaurant owner or manager, one of the hardest parts about the internet age is the online review system. Yelp, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other social media outlets have opened countless avenues for customers to express their opinions about their restaurant experience. A whopping 67% of customers are influenced by online reviews, and a change from a 3 to 4 star overall rating can dramatically affect the bottom line. Below we've highlighted some ways to respond to online reviews of your restaurant, so that you can handle each in an effective and professional matter.

Tip 1: Be engaged

The first step is to make sure you have claimed your business on Yelp and Google. This will give you the ability to edit the description, upload photos and menus, and give you resources to better manage reviews. Yelp holds free webinars for Yelp for Business users helping them boost their business and deal with negative reviews.

Tip 2: Be gracious

Whether it be a positive or negative review, thank the guest for taking the time to leave a review. They cared enough to write how they felt. Celebrate the good ones, use the bad ones as chances to coach up your staff and improve your operation. Yes, some bad reviews may seem unwaranted, but it's best to assume that there might be an issue that you could improve upon.

Tip 3: Be responsive

Respond to every single review, good or bad. Even if the issue was solved offline, or the person has untrue or alterior motives, your response shows future customers your dedication to good customer service.
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Tip 4: Be genuine

Social media and the internet have broken down barriers between businesses and people and businesses need to see the power of personalization. Engaging with customers directly makes them feel seen, heard, and appreciated. Try not to use canned responses, as customers can see right through them. Use their name if they’ve given it, address the issues they spoke about directly in their review, and give them the actions you’ll be taking because of the review. There have been countless cases of a 1 star review being changed to a 4 or 5 star because the business was attentive and address the issue. End your comment with your name, further personalizing the experience.

Tip 5: Be cool-headed

If you receive a bad review, step away. You don’t need to respond to it immediately (unless it is actually a pressing matter). Draft your response and read it out loud. Wait 24 hours to acutally send it. The issue with written words is inflection is lost. How could you words be read? Could they be seen as sarcastic and demeaning? Could they be seen as dismissive? Make sure you’re being clear and letting the customer know you heard them without further infuriating them.

Tip 6: Be fully informed

Do your research before responding. Read their review carefully and determine which location, which employee if possible, and which dish was the cause of their concern. Talk to your employees about it, ask them what happened and what went wrong. Work on a solution so the situation doesn’t occur again. Look in to the reviewer to see what other reviews they have been leaving. If they’ve been leaving all 1 star reviews for every place they’ve been to, don’t take their review personally, but still respond!

Tip 7: Be smart

If the review is addressing a serious concern or is particularly bad, try to take the conversation offline. The last thing you want to happen is to have a shouting match for all the world to see on Twitter. When trying to move them “offline,” use the same platform they contacted you on. If it’s on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram- message them. If it’s on Google try to contact them via email. On Yelp you can message someone privately.

Tip 8: Be celebratory

If someone has left a great review and mentioned a particular employee or location, let them know! Celebrate their success! An appreciated employee will keep working hard and working toward more great reviews in the future.
The biggest tip for dealing with online reviews is to not be intimidated by them. Try and view them as another opportunity to chat with your guests. And also it's free advertising! If you have a good review, more people are likely to visit you. Hug your haters and then just move on. You can’t fix everything, but you can make things better for the next time.


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