Responding to Restaurant Reviews: Dos and Don’ts to Remember

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Customer reviews, regardless if they are positive or negative, can either attract or put off customers. That’s why as a restaurant owner, it’s so important to handle every feedback with grace. This goes especially for negative reviews; you want to handle the response in a professional, polite, albeit sympathetic manner. It’s hard but it will do your business a world of good if you can contain the problem rather than letting one snide remark get the best of you. In this guide, let’s outline the many ways of responding to restaurant reviews, negative or positive feedbacks alike.


DO Respond Immediately

Don’t wait too long before responding to a review, respond immediately! This goes especially for bad reviews, which spread like wildfire on social media. Research shows that 7 in 10 Twitter users expect businesses to respond to customer complaints in an hour or less. There’s no need to stay glued on the screen waiting for feedback, it’s fine to respond within 24 hours.

DO Apologize

Negative reviews are tricky to handle but apologizing right away helps control the situation immediately. Don’t be defensive with your response, avoid pinning the blame on other people or being passive-aggressive. Be sincere. Starting an apology with something like, “We’re sorry if you think we made a mistake with your order but…,” sounds condescending and it will likely hit a nerve.

Own up to the mistake, apologize, iron things out, and learn from the experience. A genuine apology that’s delivered professionally is enough to soothe even the most frayed nerves.

DO Solve the Problem

Saying sorry is not enough to prevent the same problem from happening again. Find a resolution so you don’t end up with the same mistake. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the complaint, avoid going back and forth answering every remark because an ugly exchange will only hurt your business. Respond thoughtfully, politely, and calmly.

Do what you can to find a resolution to appease the customer but if that’s not possible for some reason, acknowledge the issue at the very least. Most importantly, develop a set of best practices to generate positive reviews.


Don’t Give Excuses

Being defensive, denying that the problem exists, or giving excuses for a poorly done job will reflect badly on your business. If you are not acknowledging the problem, it gives the impression that you don’t care about 1) the customer service and 2) the customer feedback. Be sincere and straightforward if you’ve received a bad review and find ways to improve the customer service. If the customer is simply irate and you are not at fault, choose to take the high road.

Don’t Use a Canned Response

One way to make a customer feel like his or her opinion is not being taken seriously is by giving a canned response. Canned responses, no matter how thoughtfully composed, do not really do much in terms of solving the problem. Giving the same response to all negative reviews gives the impression that 1) you’re disregarding the problem and 2) you’re not taking action.

Don’t Engage in a Heated Exchange Online

If the problem is too complex to explain online, ask the customer to contact you directly. Anything you post on the internet lasts for a long, long time and engaging in an argument with a paying customer will hurt your business.

Apologize, explain the situation, and offer a resolution – in that order. If that does not work, find ways to avoid the same problem from happening again. Don’t argue with the customer or shame him/her by going through his/her social media accounts. Don’t block or delete bad reviews. Don’t plant positive reviews to hide the negative reviews. Set aside your feelings so you can respond in a calm and professional manner.

Tina Lee-Almazar | Tinaciouslee

Tina Lee-Almazar is a writer and editor based in the Philippines. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting from Centro Escolar University in Manila. She started out as a production associate at ABS-CBN Broadcasting Network in 2004 before transitioning to creative writing in 2006. Her years of experience as a writer resulted in having considerable knowledge in a variety of writing fields. When she’s not surrounding herself with pretty things or discussing herself in the third person, Tina watches funny cat videos all day.

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