How to respond to negative restaurant reviews online like a pro

Online reputation management of a restaurant has become an inevitable part of the brand image of a F&B outlet. A potential client who wants to visit a restaurant will look out for restaurant reviews online and then make a decision. In fact, as per the latest surveys, around 88% of consumers perform online research before visiting or placing an order with a food outlet. 

The positive reviews clients provide online are priceless testimonials that help build a brand reputation and increase restaurant sales. Restaurant reviews, however, need not always be positive. In the article below, let’s discuss the consequences of negative reviews and how to respond to negative restaurant reviews online. 

Review, increase rating or ranking, evaluation and classification concept. Businessman draw five yellow star to increase rating of his company.

The consequence of negative restaurant reviews:-

Negative reviews, whether genuine or otherwise, have consequences for your restaurant business. Negative reviews can affect your restaurant business in the following ways:-

Damage reputation:-

Nothing is more damaging to a business’s reputation than a potential client reading a negative review from another client. A string of negative reviews is enough for a potential customer to make a first and last wrong impression about the brand.

Losing existing customers:-

Marketing surveys show most clients don’t bother to complain or express displeasure about the service and may stop buying from the restaurant business altogether in case of a complaint. A negative review shows the client is agitated, and if the restaurant does not respond to it, there are chances they may not revisit the food outlet.

Loss of revenue:-

Negative reviews can lead to negative publicity and, eventually, loss of business. Restaurants, as such, don’t work on very high-profit margins; hence a considerable loss of footfall can threaten the very existence of the restaurant business. The client may even switch to a rival restaurant, leading to a permanent loss of business.

Things not to do when confronted by a negative review:-

Ignoring the review:-

Barring a few exceptions, most reviews should be addressed without any delay. All positive reviews must be acknowledged, and negative ones must be dealt with. Not responding to negative restaurant reviews means the restaurant is not bothered about its online reputation management. People reading such a review will conclude that the restaurant is an unprofessional and unreliable service provider.

Getting defensive while responding to negative restaurant reviews:

Getting angry or defensive when replying to a negative review is a big no. No matter how annoying the review is, it should be answered calmly, composedly, and professionally. Review sites and platforms are open public forms, and the readers should not get a negative impression of the restaurant business from the reply you provide to an aggrieved client.

Owning your mistakes:-

In a people-oriented business like a restaurant industry, mistakes and service lapses do happen. If there is a genuine error in service, the restaurant should acknowledge the same. Owning up to your mistakes in restaurant reviews sites makes you a responsible business and gives a positive impression among your clients.

Unwarranted apology:-

While the restaurant must apologize for service or food complaints, this does not mean they should entertain spammy, hate speech, and online abuse. If the client is trying to portray inaccurately the incident that might have transpired, the restaurant can call out the details in a firm but polite manner. A lying client may not return to your restaurant, but they should not be allowed to ruin your reputation.

Disappointed displeased pity girl show thumbs down grimace dislike express negative opinion thumbs down gesture apologizing giving bad feedback stand purple background unimpressed.

How to respond to negative restaurant reviews like a professional

Having discussed the consequence of a negative review and things not to do when confronted with a negative review, let’s know how restaurants should respond to negative reviews like a professional:-

Prompt reply:-

Any positive or negative reply must be acknowledged as soon as possible. Ideally, a 24 to 48 hours reply time will be ideal even if the restaurant is not in a position to reply to a query, an acknowledgment of the complaint will also work fine for online reputation management.

Honest approach while responding to negative restaurant reviews:-

Genuine negative feedback highlights the pain points the restaurant needs to work on. Restaurants must not look at negative reviews with an eye of contempt. If complaints are genuine, the restaurant must apologize for the same without a second thought. Most clients want their complaints to be addressed honestly and corrective measures to be taken to address them.

Professional response:-

Negative reviews can get nasty, with some claims being exaggerated, partly true, or even totally false. However, provoking a complaint is a responsible business need to handle the same professionally and not get over emotional. The complaints and the responses given by the restaurant are in the public domain, and the quality of the response will help the restaurant manage its online reputation management.

Personal response to the negative reviews:-

The tone of some negative reviews is unreasonable and unwarranted, but restaurants’ responses must be polite and considerate. Try to avoid automated replies and reply individually, mentioning the name of the aggrieved client and showing empathy. The quality of the restaurant’s response reflects the positive brand image of the business.

Taking conversation offline:-

Washing your dirty linens in public is not a good idea; the same goes for replying to responding to negative restaurant reviews. After the initial acknowledgment and response, it’s better to get in touch with the client through DM or request contact details to get in touch directly. Taking the conversation offline should only happen after the initial response online. In no way taking the conversation offline should come out as an attempt to cover the mistake.

Handing trolls:-

There are many ways to handle complaints, but what does a business do when the negative reviews are not genuine? Certain people will write nasty things to let others down and take a thrill from it. Another section may have ulterior motives to show your restaurant in a bad light by posting unfavorable reviews on social platforms. If you feel some reviews are fake, you can reply to them in a befitting but dignified manner. The restaurant can even report such reviews and get them deleted from social media platforms. 

Word-of-mouth publicity and online customer testimonials are one of the best marketing tactics a restaurant can use to promote itself. Rather than looking at negative restaurant reviews as problems, F&B unit management should use them as precious feedback to better their service. A restaurant must keep avenues of communication open with aggrieved clients and try to win them back by handling negative business reviews. Hope you liked this article of how to respond to negative restaurant review do leave a comment below.

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