Jeremy Julian

How to Deal with Negative Restaurant Reviews

November 29, 2017

We have all been there: you got a negative review on social media. It was on one of the platforms of Facebook, Yelp, Foursquare and/or Google. How did you deal with that review? Just tell yourself to ignore it? Did you try to engage the poster? Or, did you get offended/angry, go about your day and never stop thinking about that review?


We are here to tell you: engage the user.


Why would you engage a user? Think of it this way: nearly 70% of people using the Internet are influenced by reviews. This means that you’ve got to take your restaurant reviews seriously – whether they are positive or negative.


It is important to be proactive when it comes to reviews, especially the unfavorable ones. First of all, not all negative reviews have lasting consequences. Even though negative reviews are nightmares for most restaurant owners. If you have the right mindset, a negative review is an opportunity for growth. A bad review can help you improve the quality of your customer service. It also gives you the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.


In order to turn a negative into a positive, you must be prepared and have a strategic plan. A single negative review can start a cascade of events that can ruin your reputation. Unless, you decide to take control of the situation. But let’s face it, nearly all restaurants have received a negative review at one time or another. It’s what you do with the review that sets you apart and defines your restaurant.


So what do you do?


Thoroughly Read the Review
This step may seem elementary, but you would be surprised to hear how many people miss this step. Read the review. Carefully. Try to understand the context. Identify the date, how is the tone of the message, is this something you can immediately fix and what staff members, if any were part of the issue. This is a way for you to grasp the situation and plan your next move.


Respond in a Timely Manner
Respond to the review within 24 hours and make it public. It’s one of the ways to show that you care and value their opinion. Take it as if you went through their own experience, this certainly indicates that you are paying attention to everything that your customer says. Use your customer’s feedback to generate content for your reply.


Research the Customer
Do you know the customer who wrote the review? Is it a regular or someone who only came in once? If it’s anonymous, can you tell if it’s a legitimate review? Take a look at whether or not this person is in the habit of posting negative reviews. Check out their social media pages. Try and find out if they are local or an out-of-towner. Learning more about your reviewer can help you gain insight into why they left the review.


Acknowledge and Apologize
When you post a reply to the reviewer on social media, make sure your response is genuine. One bad review can multiply like wildfire throughout your community and spell disaster for your restaurant. And if you do not come off genuine, it will most likely amplify the problem. Think of it this way, not only are you fighting for the reviewer’s business, but you’re fighting for everyone else who reads the review. It’s important to treat your guest with the utmost importance and make them feel special. You want to empathize with them and let them know you understand.


Fix the Problem
Follow your word and fix the issues. Even though one customer complained publicly, how many customers experienced the same thing but did not leave a review? That is the more dangerous scenario. If it is a staff issue, train and work with them. If it is a time and process issue, work on your restaurants efficiency. Either way, do what you have to do fix the problem. Remember: turn the negative into a positive. This is your opportunity.


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