5 Tips for Addressing Negative Customer Reviews

Restaurant customer reviews have become an integral part of the culinary industry. But while some may sing your restaurant’s praises, others will highlight areas for improvement. Show your appreciation for such feedback by using these five tips to respond to even your harshest critics in a sincere and professional manner.

Be prompt

When it comes to addressing a negative customer review, time is of the essence. Responding within a few hours or days rather than weeks will increase your chances of salvaging the customer relationship. Set aside five minutes every other day to scour the web for restaurant customer reviews that you should address. Quickly following up with diners will make it clear that you value their thoughts and opinions. When possible, take the follow up conversation offline, such as email, phone or in person, rather than posting in the comments section where a review was written.

Own up to your mistakes

Whether it’s poor service or a subpar dish, mistakes happen. For each occasional slipup, craft a sincere apology that includes specific details from the customer’s review. While it may be easier to send an automated response, such an apology can often leave customers question whether you took the time to read their review or have plans to act on their feedback.

Find a solution

Although a swift apology may inch your restaurant closer toward a diner’s good graces, it often does little to fix the problem that caused the negative review in the first place. Outline the steps you’re taking to ensure their poor experience doesn’t turn into a common occurrence. Going out of your way to make changes based on a negative customer review will demonstrate your willingness to engage and empower diners.

Keep your door open

Make it easy for diners to contact with you additional ideas or suggestions that come to mind. Sharing your work phone number and email address will help facilitate an ongoing conversation that is geared toward improving your restaurant’s dining experience. The more diners you hear from, the better you’ll be at identifying and addressing issues that negatively impact your restaurant.

Notify your staff

Keep your front- and back-of-house staff in the loop by sharing common complaints from online customer reviews. Not only will sharing feedback help employees figure out what’s working and what’s not, but it will also highlight what adjustments need to be made to resolve recurring issues.

Consider meeting with staff members individually or as a group to discuss ways they can use restaurant customer reviews to grow and improve. Developing a detailed plan that features recommended changes will help your front- and back-of-house staff take advantage of the opportunities that accompany negative reviews.

Hungry for more? Download our new whitepaper, “A Guide to Restaurant Reviews,” by clicking here.