Reputation Defenders

How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews?

How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews?
Kim Calloway

9 min


How to Respond to Negative Restaurant Reviews?

To improve your business's online presence, you must learn how to handle negative reviews effectively. Below, we've provided a step-by-step guide to handling negative feedback and convincing people to change their reviews.

How Bad Reviews Affect Your Restaurant

If bad reviews are like health code violations, then good reviews are like cleanliness inspections. You don't want them because they might scare off potential diners, but you need them too. So when one comes up, take it seriously.

First, we'll look at the effects negative online reviews can have on your restaurants.

  • Potential patrons will avoid your restaurant if they see even one bad experience online. According to research conducted by Soundwave, one negative Yelp! The comment will cause 22 percent of your prospective diners to steer clear. Three bad comments will turn off 59.2 percent, while more than four bad reviews will make up 70 percent of your patron's leave.
  • Your revenues will decline: According to an LSI Insider study, companies with a one-to-one. 5 rating has 33 percent fewer revenues than the average company.
  • Your trustworthiness will decrease if people start posting bad reviews about you online.
  • If your restaurant has bad reviews, then people won't be able to see them when searching online. They want to help their potential customers by showing them the best options available. So if you have bad reviews, they're not going to put you at the top of the list.
  • If you receive too many negative comments, it may become difficult for you to restore your reputation. However, if you've already received many negative comments, you may need to change your brand image to gain customer confidence. Even then, restoring your reputation may take work.

Examples of bad customer service in restaurants

When you go out for dinner at a new place, most people leave negative reviews after a bad experience. If you want to avoid a bad review, here are some tips on how to get good reviews from your next dining experience.

  • Wait time: One of the most common complaints from restaurant patrons is the long wait time. Make sure you optimize your workflow and train everyone at your restaurant.
  • Problems with the team: These can range from poor employee training to people who are outright rude to customers. Make sure your team offers the best customer service experience possible, no matter the circumstances.
  • Ignore any message from a potential customer, even if it comes through social channels. They may be contacting you for another reason entirely.
  • If you still need to resolve a complaint, you must resolve it. Otherwise, you will become just one of those businesses that don't take their customers seriously.
  • You'll lose the deal if you tell a client that he's in the wrong when he isn't. Don't ever try to fool a client into thinking he's right just because you want him to stay. Tell him the truth instead, apologize for any mistakes you may have made, and then fix them, so you don't repeat them.
bad restaurant reviews - Reviews Day

Should You Respond to Negative Reviews?

You should respond to negative comments because they're not just opinions but facts. However, don't go overboard. Don't get angry or sarcastic because that will further anger the customer and damage your reputation.

The best way to respond to a restaurant review is to acknowledge it. This doesn't mean ignoring it; rather, it means acknowledging what the reviewer had to say. If you don't like the review, that's fine. Just make sure you offer something constructive in response.

If the person left a negative review because he didn't enjoy his meal, then offering him a free dessert or gift card could go a long way toward improving your relationship. On the flip side, if the person left a scathing review because she hated her food, then responding with "We're sorry about that!" won't do much good. Instead, try saying things like, "I'm glad you enjoyed your experience here." Or even better, "Thank you for sharing your opinion. We'll work hard to improve our menu and ensure we provide you with great experiences every time."

In either case, remember that people are reading your comments. You risk alienating customers and driving away potential clients if you come off as defensive, angry, or rude.

bad restaurant reviews response - Reviews Day

When someone posts negative reviews of your restaurant online, here's how to respond

When responding to negative reviews, there are certain things you should always include regardless of the platform. However, the approach varies depending on which platform you're using.

How to respond to bad reviews on Google

Google reviews and customer feedback are vital for restaurant owners. This is the first location where you should check for negative feedback. Replacing these comments is the first step to increasing your Google customer score. Here's what you can do if you receive a single-point comment on Google:

  • Be polite and respectful at all times.
  • Read the reviews carefully to understand the problem and take some time to brainstorm potential fixes and come up with a plan for moving forward.
  • If you've done something wrong, don't blame yourself. Even if the customer was rude for no apparent reason, don't apologize.
  • If the issue needs further investigation, reply first, so they know you're working on it. Then follow up with an updated answer once you've completed the task. If you want to contact them again, email them or call them.
  • If the problem has a simple solution, explain it to the customer.
  • Thank them for bringing this problem to our attention.

You can see from the screenshot above that the restaurant manager apologized for the poor customer experience, explained why he couldn't fulfill her request, and emphasized how important good service is to him. He even offered to give her a free meal if she was unsatisfied with his answer.

To encourage customers to write reviews for your business on Google, you can buy a "write us a review" sticker and put it on every table in the restaurant.

How to respond to negative reviews on Yelp

If you want proof that you should respond to negative Yelp reviews, then you should know that a 1-point increase in your Yelp rating increases your revenues by up to 9%! Now, you should be even more motivated to improve your ratings. So, if you're going to respond to negative reviews, here's what you should do:

  • Personalize your email using the customer's first and last name and sign your signature at the bottom.
  • Apologize for their specific problem, not for something generic like "your overall experience." This way, your response feels more personal and sincere.
  • Tell them what you've already tried and why it didn't solve the problem. Make sure they understand what needs to be changed so it won't happen again.
  • Give them a discount code or a complimentary gift as an apology for their trouble and a token of your gratitude.

Always respond to negative restaurant review comments by thinking about how you'd want to be treated if you were in their shoes and then act accordingly.

How to respond to negative reviews on Facebook

When responding to a customer who has posted a negative comment on Facebook, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • If you think the review was unfair and its contents made you angry, wait until you've calmed down before responding.
  • Start by apologizing if you've done something wrong. If you haven't, don't apologize. Instead, use a sympathetic tone to tell the person why they're unsatisfied.
  • Make sure the reviewer knows this isn't a common problem.
  • Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and help us improve our service.

A negative review response is a good example because apology – thanks – admission of guilt – solution, all done very politely.

How to respond to bad restaurant reviews - Reviews Day

Best Practices for Responding to Negative Reviews

If you want to respond to negative customer reviews, here are some tips for doing so without damaging your business.

Saying thank you and sorry goes a long way.

I can't emphasize how important these two phrases are when responding to negative reviews. If someone left you comments about your service, thank them even if they didn't say nice things. It helps you improve your business and might help you find problems you would not have found otherwise.

Apologizing for a bad experience is important, but don't be too apologetic. It makes you appear unprofessional and suggests you're unprepared, inexperienced, and bad at customer service.

More importantly, don't be afraid to say no if you're genuinely unable to help someone. "The customer is always right" is true only to a certain extent.

Reply promptly

When responding to a bad restaurant review, remember that speed matters. If you spend less of your response talking about yourself and your business, the person who wrote the review might not be interested in any suggestions you offer. They will probably avoid your restaurant shortly.

Ensure you're checking and responding to bad reviews on social media platforms at least once every two or three days.

A negative food review teaches us something new about ourselves.

If you depend on your customers' opinions for success, they should be important to you. For instance, if you get more than three bad reviews complaining the service was slow, or the meal was cold, it may be time to check with the staff.

Don't use this advice for responding to negative customer reviews just as a form of advertising, but strive to make sure you run a high-quality business where there are no complaints. Then you won't need to worry about dealing with any bad reviews.

We'd be happy to talk again if we missed anything.

Numerous instances of bad restaurants getting good customer service by simply following a standard template response. However, if you want to truly solve the issue and convert that one-star review into a five-star review, you need to provide better customer service than they did.

You can get a good restaurant review if you give them some choices for contacting you.

Personalize your response

It's okay to base your response on a template, especially if you've never received negative feedback. However, please don't use the template exactly as it is but customize it for each customer. Simple customization, including their first and last names, makes your responses more personalized.

Remember to keep a professional attitude at all times. If some people might appreciate a funny comment, don't go for it. You don't know until after they've left.

If you made mistakes, take ownership of them.

This also applies to reviews. If your restaurant gets bad reviews, don't get defensive about them. Just apologize and move on. Your reputation is too important to let one negative review ruin it. You can tell people later what happened, but not before they leave.

Don't use your restaurant's real business names in the responses.

If you're looking for ways to deal with unhappy customers online, here's one trick to avoid losing business due to negative reviews. Please don't include your brand name in them.

On the other hand — if you include your restaurant'​s name when replying to positive reviews, people will be able to see them.

Don't get defensive.

Don't let negative reviews bother you. Try to understand why they're saying what they're saying. And don't become defensive. If you look bad, so does your company.

Give them another chance by inviting them back.

If you want positive feedback from unhappy patrons, ask them for a second chance. However, don't just give them a second chance. Give them an opportunity they won't forget.

Offering discounts, free desserts, or even meals on the house to unhappy customers could help them reconsider whether or not they want to leave a negative review.

A negative review response template for restaurants example you can use:

Use the following template as a starting place for responding to negative restaurant review comments, and then tailor it to suit specific situations:


We're sorry to hear that you were dissatisfied with our service. We want to help you get better results next time.

If you need help with the project, please get in touch with me by email or calling [my direct line].

Meanwhile, to give you a second shot at providing us with an excellent dining experience, we hope you will kindly take advantage of our special offer by checking your messages. You will discover a coupon code for your next visit to our restaurant.

Thanks for letting us know!



Regardless of how well you prepare your food or serve your guests, you will sometimes receive bad reviews. You must be able to accept that fact to focus on responding to them.

Remember, these are the steps for responding to negative restaurant reviews:

Apologize – Solve – Thank.


November 19, 2022

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