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7 Steps to Respond to Negative Online Reviews

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

Everyone gets a bad review, even the most famous restaurateurs have a few. Check Scott Conant or Gordon Ramsay's Yelp or Google Plus pages, you will find some poor reviews.

The average ticket for their establishments is perhaps 50 to 60 dollars per person. They probably have training systems in place. They may get better managers than you and me because they can afford to pay them, and we can't.

But guess what, they still get bad reviews.

We can't please everybody, we can't control what people will say about us, it happens so we shouldn't be taking it personally.

But instead, we must take that as an opportunity.

Everything that comes your way, negative or positive, is an opportunity to turn that into repeat business and use that as a way of growing sales and gaining new customers.

We have been using 7 steps in our company to respond to all negative reviews that are placed by customers on our review sites.

The steps and templates will help every restaurant owner to be professional in answering their customer's negative feedback.

They will also guide you to be more positive, courteous, and generous to everyone, no matter how bad their review is.

7 Steps to respond to BAD online reviews:

1. Use their name

“A person's name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie.

People love to hear their name, honor them by starting your response by addressing them by their first name.

Always and whenever possible, acknowledge the customers using their first name because it appears to be more personal and sincere.

2. Thank them

Immediately after the greeting, thank them. Show appreciation that out of their busy day, they chose and took the time to give us feedback.

Consider how it looks like when someone is reading that nasty review and see their comments, and then you start your answer with gratitude, it will only show how professional and courteous you are as a company. That really goes a long way.

3. Apologize

Acknowledge their concerns, you need to be precise based on the information they shared in the review, you must apologize for the inconvenience and about the experience they had.

You need to be specific with what you are apologizing for, for instance, they complain that the steak was undercooked, then say "I am really sorry if the steak was undercooked."

This gives them the impression that you are sincere, you "heard" them and that you are indeed disappointed with their bad experience.

4. This is not who we are!

Communicate in your response that it seems like they caught you on an off night. Why it matters is because when other thousands of customers read this negative review in the future, they would understand.

Everyone has an off night or day every now and then! We are all human and the fact that you are acknowledging it only displays humility. People appreciate that.

Just be generic, simply say, "I'm sorry you caught us on an off night." You don't have to be specific like telling them reasons such as "We had a fun day, the oven broke down, someone quit on the spot," and so on, people wouldn't like to know or hear that.

5. Extend an olive branch!

You need to offer an incentive, 70% of customers who leave bad reviews are willing to give a second chance.

Politely ask for an opportunity to make things right and give them a reason to extend an olive branch.

They already spent, for instance, $25 dining in your restaurant and you inconvenienced them, they are not going to come back to spend another $25.

Offer freebies like free bread sticks, desserts or even a refund. Thousands of people will read that comment, show that you cared enough and communicate it wisely.

6. End it positively

Express gratitude again, genuinely apologize and assume that they are going to reply to you.

To be honest, a lot of people may not get back to you about the incentive but people who will read that review later will have an idea of how professional and courteous you are.

So you are not going to lose business because of the way you handle things, and that's the goal, to win people.

7. Sign off

Always end any written communication for a customer with your name and your position when appropriate.

For example, "Susan Johnson, Owner." It emphasizes the fact that you are a person, it is more personalized and relatable. The position will show that you cared enough to especially go in and leave them a response.

It also displays professionalism and accountability because as representative of a company, you personally take the time to answer back. This gives people more confidence that someone is taking responsibility for whatever inconvenience they may have experienced.

Mastery is all on the details, choosing your words, how you go about this, that little by little you build your brand and reputation in your community.

For you to thrive and stay long in this industry, it matters how you show care for your customers, whether it's in person or online.

Look at the bright side that customers are giving you negative feedback as it will give you insights on how you can improve your food or service better.

Don't be scared to answer negative reviews, let us help you manage that with our tried and tested 7-step to respond to negative reviews.

You don't need to hire somebody to answer every comment or review you have gotten online, you can do this in house, fast and easy with these 7 steps and templates, please click on this link to download it for free:


Download for free!

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