How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews

Topics: Small Business Advice

Raise your hand if your restaurant has been a victim of a bad review on social media.

As a restaurant owner, your hands are in the FOH, BOH, and probably crouched in an office the size of a closet scoping out your online reviews. It can be so frustrating to have a successful weekend, only to open up your social media pages and get hit with a defeating (oftentimes baseless) low score and equally hurtful words about your establishment.

While you may be tempted to fire off a searing reply, with the right approach to your social media strategy, you can help turn those reviews into manageable dialogue and come out better for it.

Tips for Handling Negative Reviews

There are some important best practices to consider when navigating online reviews for your restaurant. We list a few of them below:

Don’t Delete It

If you don’t address the reviews, then readers may think the bad review is true. People would generally much rather see a bad review with good customer service follow up. Whatever you do, don’t delete it. Keep emotions in check, regardless of whether the claims are true.

You’re Responding for Everyone Reading the Review

Let your rebuttal show how great you manage unfavorable situations. With all kinds of third party review platforms, you can’t erase your electronic footprint.

Keep Emotions Out of It

Sometimes a review can be true, sometimes it’s baseless. Either way it strikes a nerve and letting your emotions get the best of you won’t help. Don’t turn into a “troll” yourself and match the reviewers’ behavior. Keep it as professional as if the person was in your dining room.

Thank the Customer for Bringing This to Your Attention

Ok, ok…so they didn’t like that new shade of mint in your dining room, they loved the food and still left a subpar review. You can’t please everyone. Remember, people read reviews more than ever – so, it’s important to thank them for giving your place a shot. It’s not your fault they have bad taste in restaurant dĂ©cor…leave that last part out.

Offer to Make It Right

Maybe your chef had a rough night or a server bailed at the last minute. If you can, do a little research from your staff and see if something didn’t go right. Offering to make it right, whether “right” or not, can earn you a loyal customer (who may tell her friends). If a customer knows that the establishment is sincere and even acknowledges a problem, they’re much more likely to give you a chance.

Take It Offline

If things are escalating quickly and the customer still isn’t satisfied and you’ve tried everything from asking for their contact information to replying to each thread – it’s ok to disengage. Since you’re all about the customers’ offline experience when they dine with you, it can be tricky on the internet. You’ve made a good-faith effort, and it’s been documented for everyone to see. You may even find that your loyal customers back you up. If the majority of your reviews are good, then let them stand on their own.

Small Business Insurance Solutions for Restaurants

AmTrust Financial provides a variety of resources for small business owners. Contact us today to learn more about our restaurant insurance coverage options.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact with your local RSM for more information.

Time Zones