10 Tips for Handling Negative Restaurant Reviews Positively
Negative restaurant reviews can hit anyone.
If you own or manage a restaurant, you work hard every single shift to make sure you are serving the best tasting food. You also work hard training your staff, and you work diligently to provide the best customer service possible.
You get great reviews on a regular basis. Until one day a negative restaurant review comes in.
You may feel shocked. You probably feel defensive. You want to react.
While those are all normal feelings, you want to respond carefully. In this article, we look at 10 tips for handling negative restaurant reviews positively.
#1: Respond Promptly
Your goal should be to respond to a negative (or positive) restaurant review within 24-48 hours. Please don’t wait any longer than that. (tweet this)
By responding quickly, you show your customers that you really care about their experience. You show them you want to improve your restaurant for them and for everyone else as well.
When you respond promptly, you also show respect to your customer, and they may really appreciate it.
#2: Respond with Empathy
Don’t take negative restaurant reviews personally. Generally, it’s not a personal insult. Remember that it is usually someone’s perception of an issue.
If you take the review too personally, you’ll find that your response tends to be more negative than positive.
Respond with empathy and sympathy. Use your words to apologize and show the customer you are remorseful for their bad experience.
When you respond in an empathetic manner, quite often you’ll find you can change the customer’s mind, get them to take down the review, and encourage their loyalty.
Ultimately you want to take the review and use as it as an opportunity to grow and refine your processes.
#3: Take a Step Back
Before you respond, you want to take a quick step back. If you respond too quickly, it may not be the perfectly positive response you’re looking for.
Make sure your response aligns with your business and your core values as a person.
So, breathe, hit the pause button, and take an hour or so to come up with a positive response.
#4: Have Response Templates Ready
It helps to have a basic response template prepared that you can tailor for each negative review.
Why is this a good idea? It’s a good practice because you can prepare it before you feel defensive about a negative review.
When crafting your template, remember these three things:
- Apologize to the customer.
- Thank them for their feedback.
- Let them know you’d like to try and fix the problem.
- Offer to talk to them on the phone or by email and continue the conversation. This is a great idea because you take the conversation offline and away from others.
By creating a simple template, you can use it as a guide as you craft your personal response.
#5: Take Your Time
Once you write your positive response to negative reviews, leave it for a minute.
Take your time. Once you’re written or typed out your response, let it sit for a little bit and then come back to look at it with fresh eyes.
This is how you take the emotion out of your response. Do reply swiftly, though, and try not to let more than a day sit between the review and your response.
#6: Offer a Solution
It’s quite important to offer either a solution or an incentive to come back to your restaurant.
In your response, address the diner’s concerns and then tell them how you are fixing things in your restaurant. In addition, you can offer them an incentive to come back again.
Encourage them to give your restaurant another try.
#7: Look at the Review Realistically
Sometimes a bad review has nothing to do with your food or service. It may just be the customer is having a bad day.
What’s more, sometimes you just can’t please every guest.
As long as you do what you can to respond positively and with empathy, it’s important o understand that you can’t fix them all and win them back.
#8: Show Your Personality
Make sure your response lets your personality shine.
With your positive and empathetic response, you open the door to an emotional connection with your diners.
Use the negative review to show your personality and humanize your restaurant. You are more than food. You are a restaurant that provides exceptional service not only in the restaurant but online as well.
#9: Share Reviews with Staff
One of the most important things you can do is share your negative (and positive) reviews with your staff. This is the only way you’ll actually improve if your staff had a misstep. (tweet this)
By talking to your staff, you can offer constructive criticism. You can also take the opportunity to provide extra customer service training to your team.
If the problem is with your food, make sure you get back into the kitchen to work with your chefs and cooks.
Ultimately you want to address the complaint with your staff and help them correct it in the future to avoid any repeat issues.
#10: Fix the Problem
After you’ve spoken to your staff, it’s time to fix the problem that caused the negative review.
Take each negative review as the chance to learn and grow with your team. Each bad review provides a teaching moment for you.
Now that you have tips for handling negative restaurant reviews, we’re going to leave you with a few statistics about reviews:
- People feel most comfortable when restaurants have at least three out of five stars.
- When choosing a restaurant, Gen Z and Millennials are 99% more likely to rely on social media and online reviews than are Gen X and Boomers.
- When people search “a restaurant near me,” a star rating increase of just 0.1 could increase the conversion rates of a business location by 25%.
- 66% of respondents trust an anonymous, online review more than they trust a recommendation from their ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend.
You can see with these stats that obtaining reviews and doing all you can to keep them positive is vital to your success.
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Images: Jonas Leupe and Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash
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