How To Respond To Bad Reviews About Restaurants


FEB 24, 2023


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The importance of responding to negative restaurant reviews

Whether you have been running your restaurant for thirty years or two, bad reviews show up to taunt you. Ignoring negative reviews may seem easy, but customers read all the reviews and notice when a company does not respond to a bad comment. Essentially, what you do and do not say makes a difference for your company. 

Knowing how to respond to negative reviews takes thought and planning to mitigate the impact. With the right tools, you can not only control the situation but turn it into a profitable learning experience. Remember, even bad reviews mean people are talking about you; now, figure out what you want them to say!

Understanding the Impact of Negative Reviews

Online reviews are important for restaurants as customers' experiences will say more than your menu or website can. If one customer gets on your website and says the food was so-so and the customer service was average, other people are going to respond. Unless you respond to the review and show your company as empathetic and willing to grow. 

Sharing food and drinks is a highly social experience making it uniquely personal, and people share the thing that affects them personally. When it comes to restaurants, customers are frequently looking for new options—and they rely on online reviews to find their new dining experience. Another reason restaurants should think about their online presence is that customer reviews have a real, measurable impact on business performance. 

Tools that listen to what people are saying on the Internet and on social media can help you find reviews that are not addressed to your brand and compile them in one place. Set up social media monitoring for your brand name, product or service name, and any keywords that may assist you in detecting brand-related reviews. Social media monitoring tools will typically assist you in determining the sentiment of the mentions, which is critical for quickly identifying reviews that require your attention first.

Responding to Negative Restaurant Reviews

People turn to reviews to check out new restaurants. Admit it, you do too, and a couple of negative reviews in a pile may make you think twice, even amid the sea of good reviews. As a result, you should be aware that anyone who finds your restaurant online will see your reviews as well. 

The good news is that if you respond to all of your online reviews, both good and bad, customers will still order from you. They trust a brand that stands by its service, and responding is a fast way to tell customers you are committed and engaged in growth and community. People want to know you take their comments to heart. 

Take every comment seriously and look into it further to get to the bottom of any problem. You can request that the reviewer send you more information in a private message or via email so that you can provide the best solution. 

For example, if you read more than three comments about cold food, there is clearly a problem somewhere in the delivery process. Determine what is wrong and notify the reviewers once the problem has been resolved. 

If you ignore negative restaurant reviews, the audience will conclude that you are unconcerned about your business's perception. On the other hand, responding to every comment, even if it is brief, shows customers that you care and want to provide them with the best experience possible. A bad review can be a learning experience, but with a little effort and the right words, you can persuade clients to give you another chance.

Turning Negative Reviews into Positive Experiences

When a customer leaves a negative review, your first reaction may be anger, especially if you believe the review is false or unjustified. If the review is simply negative, you should respond to demonstrate that you are paying attention and care about their problem. You can also ask the customer for a second chance and even incentivize a return visit with a free appetizer or a complimentary meal. In this way, you demonstrate your hospitality - and your dedication to getting it right.

Negative reviews give you a chance to hear constructive criticism and proactive communication from the people dining in your restaurant. Maybe they did not want to say it in-store, but they took the time to give a review. This gives you a much better chance of changing their answer get gaining a repeat customer. If they did not tell you in the store or online, you have lost a customer you cannot get back. 

Instead, take the time to highlight positive aspects of the review by reiterating what they say so the customer feels heard. Express your regret over their poor experience and explain the cause of the error. When you explain why the problem will not happen again, you demonstrate to customers that you value their feedback. The goal of this strategy is to reassure potential customers that you learned your lesson and will not encounter a similar problem during their visit. 

Next, move the conversation offline with contact information. This demonstrates that you are open to feedback and approachable. You can turn their concerns into an opportunity to increase retention and improve your relationship by reflecting on their concerns and addressing what they have raised. Then re-invite them back in to have a better experience. 

Mitigating the Impact of Negative Reviews

Now that you know how and why to respond to negative reviews, it's time for damage control. Be direct and ask newly satisfied customers to change their reviews to reflect their newest experience. In many cases, they will be delighted to do so. Recognize that negative business reviews can assist you in gaining consumer trust. 

After a negative experience, offering a coupon, voucher, or replacement product can also help you earn a second chance. While free products or services should not be your default response (customers quickly catch on and may give negative reviews solely to receive a free product), this can be an excellent tactic if there is a problem resolving the customer's original issue. If you go this route, make sure to encourage the customer to update their review if the second experience is better.

Today's shoppers understand that a single product cannot be everything to everyone. When there are no negative reviews for a product, they become suspicious. All the positive reviews may seem too perfect, which leads to the customers thinking you removed all the bad reviews, and now they cannot trust you. If they cannot trust you, they certainly will not allow your food to touch their lips. No company wants to display negative feedback. However, by doing so, you demonstrate to your customers that you are a reliable brand with nothing to hide.

Reaching out to the consumer and soliciting feedback is one of the best ways to understand their experience. Some options include a survey at the bottom of each receipt, rewards programs asking at checkout, or simply engaging with customers while they are in the dinner to show you care. Although not every customer will respond to these efforts, they will increase the likelihood of the customer leaving satisfied when compared to making no effort at all. 

Giving customers a way to express their frustrations or issues with their experience can help to reduce the number of negative company reviews that appear. Finally, when resolving issues be personable. Do not point fingers but instead offers proof you understand their plight and want to remedy the situation. A fast and personal response can go a long way in extinguishing their anger.

Promotion and marketing 

LunchBox handles everything except the food and setup to assist you in bringing customers into your restaurant. We have all the applications you need to engage and communicate with customers without them physically in the store. Here are some of the services we offer to help you stay in contact with your customers and bring in more foot traffic:

  • Sending emails, texts, and push notifications

  • Personalizing emails and sending them at the right time

  • Creating eye-catching content 

  • Segmenting your audience based on 40 data points

  • Diving deep into your data to reach more customers

  • Providing logs of individual guest relations 

  • Leaving tradition in the past and using what works now

Don't ignore bad reviews!

Negative reviews are a part of doing business; no matter how hard you try, you can not please everyone, but you can respond to every negative review, and you should. Each customer interaction provides an opportunity to learn about your customers and their likes and dislikes. Quickly responding to negative reviews with empathy and accountability goes a long way to mitigate a negative experience for a customer while also demonstrating to other potential customers that you care about providing the best experience for all customers. 

With Lunchbox marketing methods, we can help you turn negative reviews into positive experiences for you and your customers. Contact Lunchbox today and see what we can do to help create customer responses as part of your marketing package.


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