7 Brilliant Ways to Manage Not-So-Great Restaurant Reviews Online

Respond promptly to every review you get – both the negative and the positive.

Did you know that research from Northwestern University found that nearly 95% of people who read a negative review online avoid that business?

Everyone gets a bad review here and there, but what can you do about it? It is possible to sway public opinion by giving an honest, thoughtful response.

In this article, we look at seven brilliant ways to manage not-so-great restaurant reviews online. Here are some review management tips.

#1: Always Address the Reviewer Personally

The first thing you want to do when responding to bad reviews is address the reviewer by name. Your negative reviewer wants to be heard, and the first best way to let them know you hear them is to use their name in an address. 

In addition, use a salutation. For example, “Hi, Jane,” or “Dear Jane,” or “Thank you for the review, Jane.”

Since most reviewers include their names, you shouldn’t have a problem finding it. If, for some reason, their name isn’t listed, go ahead and use a proper salutation.

#2: Say Thank You

Next, you want to thank the reviewer for taking the time to leave a review. While your first response may be anger, you want to calm down and thank them anyway. 

You want to thank all reviewers, both positive and negative. Doing so shows your customers and your potential customers reading through your reviews that you value and appreciate candid feedback. 

Bottom line – always say thank you, even if you don’t appreciate the not-so-great review. 

Here are some potential first lines:

“Hi, Jane. Thank you for your review. We’re sorry to hear about your frustrating experience on Friday night. We really appreciate you letting us know about your issue.”
“Dear Jane. We are very sorry to hear about your experience. Thank you for leaving a review, as we will look into this right away.”

“Hello, Jane. Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your experience. Your feedback helps us improve our processes so we can do better next time.”

#3: Show Empathy and Sympathy in Your Response

There is a difference between empathy and sympathy:

Being empathetic means putting yourself in the reviewer’s shoes and seeing their experience from their viewpoint. 
Being sympathetic means showing concern for the reviewer.

You want to use both of these tactics in managing your not-so-great restaurant reviews.

Once you’ve addressed the reviewer and said thank you, now it’s time to show you are sorry. Even if what happened doesn’t make sense, is incorrect, or wasn’t your fault, you still want to show empathy and sympathy. 

If it was your mistake, own up to it. This strengthens trust and loyalty. If it wasn’t your mistake, go ahead and say something like this: “We are sorry our service didn’t meet your expectations.” 

Whether your staff was right or wrong, the important thing is to realize your customer thought something bad happened. So, put yourself in their shoes and show concern for their experience. 

Don’t forget that other people are reading the review, and even more importantly, they are reading your response.

Take a deep breath before responding to negative reviews so you can respond without emotion.

#4: Take Responsibility

If your restaurant or staff truly made a mistake, don’t make excuses for it. Your customers don’t care that you are busy. They care that they weren’t treated well. (tweet this)

Often times customer complaints are due to something out of the norm. But you still need to acknowledge the customer’s issue and take responsibility for it.

In addition, let your customer know that you intend to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

You can even take it a step further and let the customer know what steps you’re going to take to remedy the issue so no one else has to deal with it in the future.

#5: Offer a Solution

Your next step is to offer the customer a solution. Here’s your chance to take your response to the next level by providing options for a solution. 

For example, if someone placed a pick-up order, and they got home missing an item, you can offer them a discount. 

Or, if a customer waited over an hour for their food one night, you could offer to comp them their next meal. 

When deciding on a solution, pay careful attention to the review. The customer just might tell you what they want. 

Your overall goal here is to win the customer back. Sometimes, they’ll even take their not-so-great review down. So, offer a solution and invite the reviewer back to give your restaurant a second chance.

#6: Don’t Use a Cookie Cutter Response

It’s important that every response you leave to a review (negative and positive) is unique. Don’t use a cookie-cutter response. (tweet this)

Imagine if someone was reading through your reviews and noticed that you said the same thing over and over.

Each customer is a unique person, so each response should be unique and appropriate to the review.

#7: Move the Conversation Offline

In some instances, you want to take the conversation off the review site. This would be in cases of extreme anger. It might also be on the occasion when you did something wrong, and your customer is really upset.

By taking it offline, you are avoiding any extra comments and an ugly back-and-forth.

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Final Thoughts on Those Not-So-Great Restaurant Reviews

With nearly 30% of diners saying they won’t dine at a restaurant after reading just one negative online review, you can see how vital it is to respond appropriately to not-so-great online reviews.

With the tips in this article, you now know how to handle negative comments. 

Our final tip to you is to assign either yourself or a team member to monitor your reviews daily. Best practices say you need to respond to reviews within 24 hours. Please don’t let them sit for long. 

Potential customers are searching for reviews daily. You don’t want to miss your chance to respond in a timely manner. It might mean the difference between a new customer and a might-have-been customer. 

At Restaurant Engine, we can create a restaurant website for you that provides the perfect spot for hosting reviews. It’s important to showcase your best reviews on your website. This makes it super easy for people to see how well-loved your restaurant is. You can count on us to create a website that presents a unified brand, highlighting your reviews, that works across all digital platforms. Let us help you make the perfect site that draws customers in, improves customer engagement and your conversion rate, and enables you to grow your business! 

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Get your free website consultation today!

Images: Christin Hume and Joshua Hummell on Unsplash

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