The comments that customers leave on your review sites and social media pages are an opportunity to showcase the customer service your restaurant offers while gaining more loyal patrons. These reviews are important; 80% of people say they’re influenced by others regarding where to eat and 31% of your customers are leaving those reviews. Be aware of what others are saying about your restaurant and you’ll have a loyal customer base.

Check every day

Do not ignore the reviews left on your site. If you do, it looks like you don’t care about your customers and what they have to say about the experience you’re providing. Take about 30 minutes every day to check up on your social media and review sites to see what customers are saying. This may seem like a lot of time, but reviews are posted and viewed instantly.

If you read your reviews every morning with your first cup of coffee, and they were posted after the lunch crowd the day before, dinner customers could have already made the decision not to visit your restaurant if the reviews were negative. Your customers will appreciate you and visit your restaurant more if you quickly respond to reviews.

Don’t delete your reviews

It may seem really tough to leave negative comments on your Facebook page or review sites such as Yelp and Google Places, but deleting them would only show your customers that you don’t care about what they have to say. Leaving the comments demonstrates that you encourage criticism to help make your restaurant a better experience for all customers.

Always respond

No matter what the comment or review says, respond. If it’s negative, first sit back, take a deep breath and try not to take it personally. Of course, it’s hard to be polite when someone is trashing the restaurant you work so hard to maintain, but it’s essential to not get angry or become defensive.

First, apologize for the bad experience. Then try to explain why your customer potentially had poor service. Maybe there was a big accident in the kitchen or an associate called in sick. Things happen that customers don’t always take into account.

Lastly, always ask for a second chance. Invite the customer back for a possibly better experience. Chances are, they will return, have a better experience and change their review.

Respond to good reviews

Those good reviews you have are gold, and you should definitely respond to those as well. Thank the customer for their patronage, say you enjoy having them in your restaurant and invite them to visit again soon. If they said they enjoyed a certain dish, suggest another one they might enjoy. Creating a short, simple conversation is a good way to humanize your restaurant.

However, do not offer them a special coupon or discount for the good review. This can be seen as a sort of bribe. Plus, it’s not economical to do this for every person who gives you a good review. They’re already a happy customer, don’t push it.

You can’t win them all

Take into account that there are always going to be people who are angry just for the sake of being angry. They’re never going to have something nice to say no matter what you do. Simply apologize, explain and ask for them to return. Don’t go back and forth in a great debate. Customers who read the reviews will recognize a troll when they see one and take the other reviews into account.

Sara Petersen is the content and marketing manager at Punch Mobile Marketing. Punch’s mission is to produce the best mobile-marketing content and solutions for foodservice providers to succeed at the mobile level. Read the company’s blog, follow it on Twitter and like its Facebook page.

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2 Responses to “How to respond to negative customer reviews”

  1. sdavis@citywok.com says:

    Evidently the author has very little experience in restaurants. To make excuses like someone called in sick, etc…is just plain stupid. Guests could care less about your problems and putting your internal issues out there make you look inept. Just apologize and move on. These platforms have created a world of ametuer critics.

  2. You make a valid point, however, sometimes there are situations that the customer may not be aware of, and by explaining the situation, attitude can change. For example, if there is a review about a restaurant being extremely pricey, but yet lunch prices are significantly less, or there's a section in the menu with less expensive entrees that the guest overlooked, explanation is necessary in that regard.

    Don't disregard amateur critics, their reviews are the most candid and honest.

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