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With every less-than-perfect review comes the opportunity to improve your restaurant. Not only can a few words of criticism highlight areas of your restaurant that need tidying up, but they also give you the chance to win over a disgruntled diner.

Turning a negative dining experience into a positive one can help you boost business in no time. In fact, a one-star improvement in a restaurant’s ratings translates to anywhere from a five to nine percent in revenue. While every site allows you to respond to reviews, so when you can, it’s important to handle that interaction properly. Here are some tips to help you respond to even your harshest critics. 

Be prompt

Time is money, especially when it comes to the restaurant industry. One report found that more than 80 percent of consumers believe getting their issue resolved quickly is the most important part of a great customer service experience. By responding to negative reviews soon after they’re posted, you can make it clear that customer concerns are among your top priorities.

Not sure how to find what food critics and diners are saying about your restaurant? Try setting up Google Alerts or searching for your restaurant’s name on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Carefully monitoring conversations about your brand will give you the opportunity to draft a timely response to any complaints that come up.

Issue a response

Begin each response by apologizing for the diner’s poor experience at your restaurant. While every negative review may not accurately reflect your restaurant’s dining experience, a sincere yet brief apology will show that you take all customer complaints seriously. You might want to consider including specific details from the negative review in your apology to demonstrate that you’ve thoroughly examined the issue at hand. Following an initial response, continue the conversation offline – such as via a private email exchange.

Identify a solution

From running out of a popular dish to mixing up orders, mistakes are bound to happen. But by outlining specific steps to rectify the situation, you can improve for next time. In addition to offering a discount to diners who leave negative reviews, including a precise plan of action in your responses will enable prospective diners to see what improvements are in store for your restaurant.

Keep your door open

A diner’s feedback may not always be confined to a single review. Share your contact information with diners who post negative reviews to give them a way to reach you with any additional concerns or suggestions that come up. Every piece of feedback you receive presents an opportunity to improve your restaurant’s dining experience.

To learn more about why reviews matter, download our whitepaper, “A Guide to Restaurant Reviews.”

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