Importance of responding to negative restaurant reviews
Typically, customers give negative reviews due to bad experiences at restaurants. It could be due to bad customer service, long waiting times, non-availability of tables, bad food, improper staff behavior, or previously unresolved grievances. Eventually, consumers would end up rating your business low on platforms like Google, Facebook, Yelp, Zomato, etc.
Irrespective of the size of your food business, it is essential that you respond to a negative review across any significant platform. Potential new customers tend to look at reviews while selecting a dining place. Negative reviews tend to drive them away. Moreover, for existing customers, negative reviews create doubt and erode trust, which may lead to a loss of repeat business. Search engine algorithms like Google tend to put restaurants with lower ratings at the bottom of search results. Hence, your potential customers may never be able to find you, which again means a loss of business.
Approach towards responding to bad restaurant reviews
Now that we have established the importance of responding to negative reviews, here is how to go about it. Remember that these are guidelines, and you may need to adapt them to suit your needs and immediate environment
Treat criticism constructively
Every review is a conversation, especially the negative ones because they bring a collaborative opportunity to improve your business. And it’s for free. Treat reviews as pieces of feedback that you can use to improve specific areas that appeal to more customers.
For example, if there are constant reviews about a particular dish, you can tweak the recipe a little to suit customer preferences. If it is on a specific server, you can highlight areas of improvement and then act towards improving them.
You can always try to highlight the good, even in negative reviews, which would ensure that anybody who reads the review understands that it was more about a specific area of improvement and that the whole experience was not irredeemable.
Make it a reflection of your restaurant
Anything in the public domain, especially on the internet and social media, can be a PR or marketing opportunity. It is crucial, therefore, that your responses are a reflection of what your business is. You would definitely want your restaurant to come across as professional, so you ensure that your responses are formal and grammatically correct.
Customers end up spending time and money at your restaurant. Both these things are precious to them. You can reciprocate that sentiment by expressing gratitude and showing that you value their patronage. Encourage customers to repeat visits as well.
Don’t delay in responding to a negative review
It would help to keep checking food and travel websites for new thoughts, especially if they are negative, and make sure that you promptly respond to them. Only then do you have a chance to make the customer feel that you value their opinion and that your restaurant deserves another chance.
Don’t get emotional and angry while responding
Sometimes, reviews can get extreme and personal. It can make you angry because you have done much hard work in running this business. Being prompt is important, but avoid responding in such a state of mind. This would ensure that your responses are not personal and vindictive. You can always take a trustworthy person’s opinion if you are in doubt. If this continues to affect you as an owner, you should delegate someone to respond to negative reviews to someone in your team or outsource to an agency. Ensure that you keep getting the crux of the evaluation so you can improve on genuine aspects.
Don’t be afraid to apologize
When you identify a problem, and it is indeed a problem that you could have done something about, there is nothing wrong with apologizing. You are responsible for providing an excellent experience to the customer, and apologizing will only help you come across as receptive to feedback and humble.
How to write a response to negative reviews
A response to any negative review should have the following structure.
- Express gratitude. If the customer’s name is known, use it for a personal touch.
- Bring out the positive aspect of the experience.
- Apologize for all the negative aspects.
- Explain the reason for the shortcomings briefly and how you are addressing the same.
- Try to take the conversation offline by asking for the customer’s contact details or sharing yours.
- Value their patronage and encourage them to repeat visits.
Negative Restaurant Review Response Example
You can refer to the following template. You can use the same or modify it as per your needs.
Hello [Mr./Ms./Mrs. CUSTOMER NAME/Valued Customer],
Thank you for visiting us. I am happy that you liked [the positive aspect].
I am sorry to hear that [complaint]. We accept complete responsibility, and I would like to apologize and assist in resolving this issue.
Please share your contact details so that I can reach out to you. Alternatively, contact me at [mobile/email] whenever convenient.
We value your patronage and hope you will give us another chance to delight you with our services.