<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=379264953941495&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Navigate Negative Restaurant Reviews Like a Pro

If you’ve been in the restaurant industry for a long time, then chances are you've probably seen some negative reviews. There's nothing you can do about them—you can't change the past or make up for what happened—but there are things you can do to improve your business when it comes to handling negative feedback.

Keep it professional.

We've all been there, you order a meal at a restaurant and it doesn't quite live up to the hype. But what do you do when the server is rude or your food tastes like cardboard?

First, let's talk about how to handle negative restaurant reviews. As a restaurant owner, your livelihood depends on making sure customers are happy with their experience. It's important to keep in mind that even if a customer isn't satisfied with their meal, they should still be treated with respect and professionalism. That said, it can be tempting to lash out at the person who wrote the review—but remember that no matter how harsh their feedback may seem at first glance, they are likely just trying to help improve your business.

So how do you react? Try not to take any of their comments personally. If anything, focus on learning from their experience so that next time someone has similar concerns about your establishment, you can better prepare for them before they arrive for dinner service! If possible (and legal), ask for feedback after every single one of your customers leaves so that you can see exactly what went wrong in this situation for future reference.

The customer is always right, but they're not always right about everything. You should try to stay calm and professional—even when someone's complaint is invalid, or even if you agree with them.

If you feel the review is unfair or inaccurate, or if it's completely out of line—you should respond with a polite email explaining why. Explain how you'd like to rectify the situation and how long it'll take for the matter to be resolved. If the customer agrees to these terms, keep in touch with them regularly until the issue is resolved. If there's no resolution within seven days from when they leave their feedback, then consider taking further action.

Respond to every review, including negative reviews.

You’re probably wondering how you can respond to every review, including negative reviews. Well, here are some tips:

  • Respond as quickly as possible with empathy and professionalism.
  • Make sure your response is clear and concise, so it stands out in the mind of readers who read your response multiple times over a few days or weeks before coming back again with their thoughts on what would have been better had you done things differently (if they did).

Publicly address the reviewer's claims.

If a customer has a complaint, you want to address it. You can do this in several ways. One way is to address the issue publicly. Publicly responding to negative reviews can help your restaurant maintain its reputation and generate more positive reviews on Yelp and Google Maps. This can help you win back customers who were turned off by their experience at your establishment, or even attract new ones if they read about how great things were handled in response to the review (and perhaps see that there are other people like them).

Offer your apologies.

The first step to handling negative restaurant reviews is apologizing. You can do this by saying something like, “I’m sorry for what happened. I understand if you don't want to come back here again and I'm sorry that we didn't handle it better." This apology will show your guests that you are serious about making things right and will prevent them from leaving the business feeling angry or upset with themselves for not doing so earlier in the process.

Apologizing also helps keep them from feeling responsible for any problems that might have occurred during their meal because of their poor food choices or poor service at your establishment. If someone complained about a bad experience at your restaurant, then there's no reason why they should think it was their fault—it wasn't! When people feel like they're being blamed unfairly, they'll likely leave without giving another thought about going back again (and possibly telling other friends).

Follow up privately & take the conversation offline.

If you don't hear back from the reviewer, follow up privately to check in and see if there's anything you can do to help. 

First, you should ensure that the review isn't being written by someone who is a disgruntled employee. If this happens, it's best to take the conversation offline. You could send them an email or text message privately asking them why they wrote the review—and if they're willing to share their side of the story with you over email (or even better: over the phone), then ask them about it!

Here are a couple of ways you can reach out:

  • Email them directly—If they're responsive, a simple email is all it takes to thank them for their feedback and ask how they'd like us to improve our service. If they're not responding or unresponsive, try sending an email at least two days later before moving on.
  • Call the restaurant—If your reviewer lives near you and has permitted you (or if they left their number), make a call or send an email asking if they'd be willing to meet with someone from management so that both sides can discuss how we could accommodate any changes/improvements made at their table during the meal. This tactic works well when dealing with negative reviews because most people love talking about themselves!

If other people may be interested in hearing about this situation as well, consider posting on social media so that everyone else can learn from your experience too!

The way you handle a negative review is often more important than the issue itself.

If you respond in a public forum, it can help build trust and reputation with your customers—and may even lead to positive reviews. But if you respond in a private forum, it could also help resolve issues between yourself and the reviewer. If you don't have any control over what happens after someone leaves a bad review on Yelp, then there's no reason not to address them anyway!

If you’re wondering how to handle negative reviews, we hope these tips were helpful. Stay positive and remember that you can always ask for the reviewer's contact information so that you can respond in person or over email. All in all, there are many ways to handle a negative review while keeping your business running smoothly.


New call-to-action


Related bites

Staffing & Hiring

Navigating Labor Costs As a Restaurant Owner

Are you a restaurant owner who needs help navigating the ins and outs of labor costs? We’ve been there and we’re here to help!

Restaurant Marketing

How to Launch a New Menu Item at Your Restaurant

Introducing a new menu item? Here are some tips on how to launch with confidence and a plan!

Restaurant Marketing

Finding a Niche Market in The Restaurant Industry

Focusing on a niche market in the restaurant industry will be the change you need to see lasting customer relationships that will raise your revenue! Learn more here.