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Marketing Guide: How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews

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March 28, 2022

89% of customers are likely to visit a restaurant that responds to reviews.

Restaurant reviews are essential to reach new customers and get them in your door. 98 percent of consumers read online reviews. So having guest feedback online can help expose your business and boost business. However, negative reviews do happen. What do you do when you receive a poor review of your restaurant? Take charge of the situation with these techniques.

How Should a Restaurant Respond to Negative Reviews?

Restaurant owners don't want their guests to be disappointed in the food, service, or ambiance. While establishments do their best to create an exceptional dining experience, negative reviews can still happen. While it’s critical to take the time to address customers’ concerns, it’s also good to remember that these reviews are important learning opportunities for your team. Often, you might learn about certain aspects of your operations that need a little extra attention, which will only serve to strengthen your brand and team dynamics. Plus, with 89 percent of consumers likely to visit a restaurant that responds to all their reviews, staying on top of feedback has the potential to increase customer traffic.

Best Practices for Handling Negative Reviews

When responding to any review, it’s important to pause and plan your response. Reacting quickly could cause more harm than good. Planning how you’re going to effectively manage your restaurant’s reputation management will save you time and energy.

Prioritize Responses: Reviewing responses takes time. If there are multiple reviews you would like to respond to, take the time to prioritize more serious reviews. An astounding 94 percent of potential consumers have admitted poor reviews kept them from visiting a business. The longer your lack-luster review remains unaddressed, the more potential customers you could be missing out on. As you get more comfortable responding to reviews and get more time, you can revisit other reviews. 

Identify the Complaint: Instead of panicking at the thought of a negative experience, think of it as a learning opportunity. You can’t always know every aspect of your business, especially if you are occupied or away, so let your customers be your eyes and ears. They may help you identify problems you weren’t aware of, such as dirty glassware, a lack of menu options, food quality issues, and more.


Speak Professionally and Warmly: How you choose to reply to your bad review is paramount to improving your brand. If you aren’t sure how to begin, there are a few general rules to consider:

  • Address the reviewer personally. Use their name in your opening response to show you are reading their response thoroughly.
  • Thank them for the review. Acknowledge that they took the time to help you learn more about your business by thanking them for their thoughts.
  • Apologize and identify areas of improvement. Saying you are sorry, as well as sympathizing with their experience, can go a long way to help your customers feel understood. Apologizing without assuming responsibility for any wrongdoing in a public space also keeps your brand safeguarded while internal teams begin looking into the matter to find areas of improvement so the incident doesn’t happen again. 
  • Do your best to make it right. Let the review know what steps you will take to ensure their negative encounter won’t happen again. Providing solutions for others to see can quickly help your brand restore its reputation.
  • Open up the lines of communication. You don’t want to devote too much space to your social media page or website to hashing out the details of a negative review, so ask them to contact you personally if they want to further discuss the matter.
  • Invite them back. Extend an invitation to return. You can also offer an incentive like a free meal or coupons.

In general, you never want your correspondence to come across canned or fake, so take the time to be sincere in your responses.

Take Advantage of Business Tools from US Foods CHEF’STORE

CHEF’STORE, the leader in kitchen and restaurant supplies, not only offers exceptional products, but we also help support our culinary community with our extensive business resources. From training staff to menu design, let us help you achieve even more 4-star reviews. Stop by one of our many locations today!

VIEW OR DOWNLOAD OUR REVIEW MANAGEMENT CHECKLIST

Responding to negative restaurant reviews checklist.

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