As per a local consumer review survey, 97% of the customers prefer reading online reviews for local businesses.
With smartphones becoming easily accessible in today’s times, everyone has become a self-acclaimed critic.
It has had a massive impact on businesses, especially customer-facing ones, like restaurants and movie halls. While positive reviews can propel interested customers to give the restaurant a try, negative news can make them take the other route.
Interestingly, 30% of consumers say that they reverse negative reviews is their concern is appropriately responded to.
This article breaks down how to respond to customer feedback and helps you find the best responses to bad reviews. In addition, we have added some samples to help you construct your response as a token of gratefulness.
The importance of reviews and how they affect your business
94% of diners prefer choosing restaurants based on their online reviews. Also, about 12 positive reviews are needed to cover a negative review.
No one would like to disappoint their customers by offering a sub-par experience.
However, at times, there can be some grave issues in the way you operate, or there may be some one-off instances that have put them off and pushed them to post a negative review.
In other cases, there can be something about your restaurant or your food that could have propelled them to post a positive review.
Irrespective of the type of review you face, it is vital to have a calm head and not let them get on you. It would enable you to be more sensitive and reply to these reviews the way they should be.
Now coming to the business side of things, almost 9/10th of all reviews of your restaurant are from four major websites – Google contributes 73%, Yelp take up 6%, whereas Tripadvisor and Facebook take up 3% each.
While a well-curated response would not only make the reviewer happy, it also makes Google and other search engines happy too. The more reviews you have, the higher your chances of ranking on search engines.
Responding to your customers can not only make them happy but can also give you a chance to reach more and more people.
Types of restaurant reviews
Since reviews express the experience that a customer has in a restaurant, they can be both- positive as well as negative.
When they are about a positive experience, they can cover the ambiance, exceptional food, or excellent service your staff provided.
But things often take a wrong turn when the customer has a bad experience and they post about it.
Before we delve deeper, you should know that 1 in every 2 customers would question the quality of business with negative reviews.
Here are the examples of bad reviews for a restaurant –
Food quality issues
Most of the time, restaurant complaints are regarding one or more items a customer tried at their premises. If the review is in line with what others had to say, you need to pay attention.
Problem with staff behaviour
These issues can range from inconsistent or rude customer behaviour to employees incapable of answering customer queries. If these issues are persistent, make sure you train your staff to handle customers.
Ignoring customer feedback
It can be one of the glaring issues that restaurant brands don’t pay attention to.
You may or may not ace how to respond to a bad restaurant review, but ignoring them because you do not have a response sends out wrong signals to your customers.
Why is it essential to respond to your restaurant’s reviews?
Gone are the days when customer service would seize once the customer left your premise. The technology-driven world is a whole lot different and dynamic!
As per Harvard Business School, a one-star increase in a Yelp rating of a restaurant can contribute to a 9% increase in revenue. If we go vice versa, a one-star fall can also lead to a similar fall.
Given that this industry runs on slim profits, a loss in revenues can lead to a business shutting down.
Now that you know the impact of reviews let us discuss why you shouldn’t ignore reviews and always respond, irrespective of the feedback.
Imagine being in a debate. If you let your competitor have their say, and you do not present your views for any reason, you let them win. Will you prefer that, or will you look to put up a fight?
While it is not a fight, the technicals are similar here too.
If you are not responding to a negative customer review, it will imply that you are letting them have the final say, and you do not care to address their concern or the problem.
A sensible restaurant manager would instead take this as an opportunity to show the world that they care and would like to work on their shortcomings.
Another aspect of responding that you need to understand is that while you reply to a specific few messages when done on a public forum, it is visible for the world to see.
It gives you a chance to inform people of what went wrong, how you solved it, and the final steps to ensure the same issues do not come back to haunt you. It would propel new customers to give your restaurant a try.
Tips for responding to positive and negative restaurant reviews professionally
Irrespective of the type of feedback your business receives, it is imperative for you to acknowledge the same and churn out a suitable reply. Responding to customer reviews is a skill that can bring you leads at no additional costs.
For that to happen, going through the list of tips to respond to customer reviews listed below should give you a rough idea –
1. Start by thanking the customers for their reviews
Irrespective of the review type, it is vital for you to start with a thank you note that acknowledges the time spent by the reviewer in writing feedback. How do you say thank you for a food review?
By simply stating your gratitude and happiness. A thank-you note for a positive review would stretch longer than a negative one, and you need to know the right way to handle either.
2. Do your research on the reviewer
In most cases, there is context to reviews, bad or good.
So whenever you receive feedback, especially when it's not a positive one, sit with the team involved, discuss the situation, and understand what happened and the reasons behind it.
It would help you frame your response and respond in a way that would make the customer feel connected.
3. Apologise genuinely for mistakes
When you know that mistakes happened at your end, you must waste no time acknowledging the same.
So instead of beating the bush, be brutal while accepting the same and invite the customer again, stating that you will try your best not to repeat those issues.
That way, you get another life and a chance to redeem yourself.
4. Respond to every review
We have had uncountable examples of restaurant brands responding to only positive reviews. While it may seem like a ploy, it does more harm than.
With every other customer preferring to visit a place that responds to negative reviews, such a response mechanism can prove detrimental in the long run. People share because they want their voice to reach you. Your response is the way for them to know that you have heard them.
5. Don’t postpone your reviews for too long
Still worried about responses to bad reviews? Well, the longer you do, the lower the chances of redemption. Further, never take positive reviews as if they are for free.
Responding swiftly is an indicator that you pay attention and value honest feedback. If you take up too long, the person posting the opinion may feel ignored, which can propel them to do the same to you.
6. Be patient and understanding
You losing your patience shows that you did not take the response positively and are more inclined to believe that you were right in the given context.
When you are in a customer-facing business, it is vital to acknowledge customer feedback with patience and understanding, even if you know that it doesn’t reflect the truth entirely. It would also give you a sense of stability that would help you frame better responses with ease.
7. Do not take the bad reviews personally (use them as a learning opportunity)
Remember that your brand’s identity is separate from yours. If someone complains about certain aspects of your brand, it doesn’t mean that they are attacking you directly or they want you to lose your reputation.
In most cases, it is a summary of their bad experience. So, instead of being petrified by bad reviews, you can take note of the persistent issues and get rid of them at the earliest.
8. Proofread the review for good grammar and language
Broken English and shabby punctuations dishearten the readers and do not emanate a positive picture of your brand.
While this may seem pointless to a rookie, those experienced will know the importance of having a good hold on the languages you use for communication.
Also, given that the response is going out from the brand’s handle, having a good command becomes more critical.
So, it would be best if you proofread your answers for grammatical and other issues before putting them out for the universe to see and judge.
9. Invite the customers back
Did you get a fantastic review? Good, call them back. Did you get a bad review? You can invite them to visit you and allow you to serve them better.
When someone takes time to write a few sentences for you, it can be so that they are interested in what you do, even remotely.
With history proving that existing customers cost far less than acquiring new customers, you should not let this opportunity pass. Instead, use it as leverage and find ways to invite them.
For an in-depth reading, browse through our article on “Tips on Managing Customer Feedback Effectively for Restaurants”
How to avoid bad restaurant reviews?
As mentioned above, it takes 12 good reviews to negate the impact of a bad review.
So, while there are no legal ways to get negative reviews deleted from the internet, you can try and take enough precautions to ensure people do not have a bad experience with you.
For this, you will have to run periodic audits and notch up the experience now and then.
Additionally, you can push more and more people to write good reviews about you.
For that, you can run social media or offline campaigns, such as free giveaways or shoutouts. In addition, you can instruct your workforce to figure out if the diner is happy and request them to write a review before they leave. That way, you can conjure some additional positive numbers to cover up for the few negative reviews that pop up from time to time.
To facilitate this, dashboards like Momos pair surveys with voucher functionality. This enables restaurants to customise incentives for each visitor and also get them to provide feedback directly through personalised QR codes.
Whatever else you do, remember that if you want to avoid bad food reviews, you will have to give your customers more reasons to feel content and assured about what you have on offer.
Some templates for restaurant review before we head to the dessert
It is as tricky to ace how to respond to positive restaurant reviews as knowing how to reply to a complaint about poor service at a restaurant. So we thought of adding some samples to give you a head start –
1. Sample response for a negative review by the customer
Hi [REVIEWER NAME],
Thank you for taking the time to leave us a review. At [RESTAURANT NAME], we’re sorry to hear that we fell short of your expectation. We continuously strive to create good experiences for our customers, and this review will help us figure out where we are falling short.
Would you please consider reaching out to us at [PHONE NUMBER / EMAIL ADDRESS] so that we can help you further? We hope to not disappoint you again.
- [RESTAURANT NAME] Team
PSST! Did you know that with Momos Reviews & Surveys, you can simplify this process by providing your customer with a link to a personalized and detailed feedback form? It even rewards each customer for their reviews.
Find out more about it HERE (link)
2. Sample response for a positive review by the customer
Hi [REVIEWER NAME],
Thank you so much for the kind words. We are overjoyed to hear that you had a gala time at our place. We share the same passion for food and hope that we continue to live up to your expectations in future too!
Our staff will be delighted to read this review. The [reason mentioned] is something we continually work to excel at, and we are glad that the results are finally showing. Might we recommend you also try the [POPULAR FOOD ITEM NOT MENTIONED] the next time you drop by? We’re sure you’re going to love it as well. See you soon!
- [RESTAURANT NAME] Team
For more sample examples, read our article on “How to Respond to Positive Customer Feedback”
Customer reviews are lessons that you need to pay attention to at the earliest.
It is excellent that you have hundreds of positive reviews, but even if you have a single one that is otherwise, we suggest you focus on it first.
To ensure positive feedback, it is vital for you to keep the communication line open. Visit your diners’ tables once in a while to understand their experience, and if necessary, encourage them to try certain things that can take it a notch higher.
Also, request them to leave feedback and do not forget to compensate or overcompensate when there is an issue from your end. That way, you will give your customers more reasons to leave a good review and convert them into repeat visitors.
Need to effectively grow and manage your restaurant business with easy-to-use tools, real-time alerts, and simple dashboards? Reach us at Momos.