Responding to Negative Online Reviews (Infographic)

Did you know that nine out of 10 customers are likely to read reviews before they choose a business? That’s why having good online reviews for your restaurant is essential to the bottom line. What about negative feedback? While no one likes to receive criticism or complaints, the fact is that bad reviews could be good news for your business.

Negative reviews are impossible to avoid, even if you have only positive comments thus far. At some point, a customer will be less than pleased with the service or experience he or she had at your restaurant and will likely post a negative review. However, that does not mean the end of your career or your restaurant. In fact, if an organization’s reviews are all positive, potential customers may question their authenticity.

Negative reviews tell consumers what might go wrong with their food or service and how your restaurant reacted to a situation. Responding immediately is smart; it allows you to address the customer’s concerns and hopefully save the relationship. Read comments carefully and reply in a way that is genuine and on-brand. Investigate the incident further, if necessary, so that you know what happened and can understand the circumstances from the customer’s point of view.

When responding, apologize and thank the customer for his or her feedback. Avoid being defensive or making excuses. If the exchange becomes heated, offer to take it offline. Your goal is two-fold: to save the relationship with the customer and to demonstrate to potential customers through your response that you are committed to keeping clients happy.

It is often smart to offer a reasonable accommodation to a customer, such as a credit or replacement meal. Regardless, your response should show care and concern for the consumer, with an explanation of what happened on the company’s side — not an excuse. Sometimes mistakes happen and no one is at fault; it is your response — not the actual incident — that could determine whether you lose or keep this customer.

Remember that every negative review is an opportunity to get feedback on your restaurant. Respond to each comment personally and thoughtfully and it could help market your restaurant. Potential customers will see that your restaurant may not be perfect, but you are willing to take responsibility for mistakes and work to make things right.

For more tips and information on negative reviews, check out the accompanying resource from