How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews

How To Respond To Negative Restaurant Reviews

A bad review can damage your business, but there are steps you can take to either diffuse or reduce the damage. Think about it. Almost every restaurant in the world has experienced the dreaded one-star review that comes out of the blue. Your first reaction is likely anger, followed by bewilderment. You’re thinking, how could this happen? I work hard, my staff is on point, and the food is phenomenal. The worst thing you can do is ignore it and hope it “goes away.” You need to know how to respond to negative reviews. 

Negative Text-Based Reviews

The worst reviews are written spur-of-the-moment while the person is in a bad mood without taking the time to cool off, sit back and reflect on whether their experience was that terrible. Spontaneous written reviews can be lethal. These days, bad behavior seems acceptable, and people hide behind the cloak of online anonymity. Intrinsically, text-based review platforms allow negative restaurant reviews and are enablers of this bad behavior. It’s easy for anyone, a troll or even a bot, to leave a negative review with zero accountability. 

Prepare Your Action and Response Plan for Negative Restaurant Reviews

What can you do about a bad review? The first thing to do is prepare your response with the “ACTION PLAN,” which deals with your initial shock and reaction. 

  1. When you find out about the review, read it
  2. Assume it’s from one of your favorite customers
  3. Wait one day to respond, giving yourself time to cool down
  4. Double-check the situation
  5. Formulate what you will say before you do anything

Next is the “RESPONSE PLAN” 

  1. Respond empathetically. People want to be acknowledged. The best thing you can do is to summarize their complaint, apologize that it happened, thank them for the information, and, right or wrong, take ownership of the situation.
  2. Offer a solution. By taking ownership, alert them that you’re looking into the situation and offer a solution. That solution could be a discount on their next order or maybe a free entrée on their next visit, but it should relate to their complaint. Always have a couple of options at the ready.
  3. Be open to their response. Sometimes what you offer is not enough. If you still get a negative response, always respond positively, and extend “the olive branch” for reconciliation. You aim to smooth their ruffled feathers and bring them back to your side. They may never return, but if they think you handled it right, they could adjust their review or stop negative talk about your establishment.
  4. Use these negative restaurant reviews as a learning tool to make your business stronger. This review may very well have pointed out some faults in your business. Using this negative experience, you can turn it back into a positive experience for everyone involved by making some needed changes. 
  5. Encourage your customers to use video for reviews instead of text-based reviews. Videos are more authentic and show people the experience, the food, the servers, the view, the vibe – everything. Videos are more truthful but also more shareable. 

Video Reviews Are Better

As our other blog says about managing your restaurant reputation, videos show, don’t tell. It’s as simple as that. Your incredible food, smiling Host, and unique venue – the video showcases them all, allowing prospects to see the experience live. Potential customers – or you – no longer have to rely on text reviews that may or may not be truthful. 

franki is the place for video reviews – actually, more like experiences – that highlight your restaurant and show it honestly and accurately. For more information about franki, read our blog about how it works. And if you’re ready to harness your online reputation, go ahead and claim your franki listing.