How to Write a Quick Reply to a Bad Online Review of Your Restaurant or Bar

Many negative reviews point out issues that really do need to be addressed. But most go unanswered, and readers wonder if anyone in the business really cares. One or two sentences in reply are all that’s needed to show that you take feedback seriously, even if you disagree with what has been said. If the response is carefully worded, you can express regret without agreeing or accepting blame – it’s a fine line.

AngryFirst, register or ‘claim’ your listing on the review sites, so you’re ready to respond if someone is unhappy. It’s very difficult to get negative comments removed, so a reply may be your only redress.

How often should you reply? I’d recommend every time – it shows that the business is responsive and committed to improvement. And it will help to neutralise the negativity that can linger, like a bad smell, if nothing is said.

Here are some quick responses to copy and paste:

Reply to a slightly disappointed review:

‘Thanks for alerting us to this. We work hard to offer good food and friendly service, and I’m sorry that we didn’t meet your expectations. I hope you will give us another chance in the future. If you’d like to contact me directly, please call the restaurant and ask for Ken.’

Reply to an unfairly harsh or negative review:

‘It’s very disappointing to receive a comment like this. We work hard to offer good food and friendly service, and will investigate the concerns you have raised [or you may like to address the specific complaint in a non-defensive way]. I hope you will give us another chance in the future. If you’d like to contact me directly, please call the restaurant and ask for Ken.’

Don’t forget, good reviews also merit a response, and your engagement will lessen the likelihood of bad ones:

A short response to a positive review:

‘Thank you very much for the positive comments. It’s always encouraging when customers acknowledge the good work of our team. We look forward to seeing you again soon.’

A longer response:

‘Thank you very much for the positive comments. We work hard to offer good food and friendly, efficient service, and I’m so glad your visit was enjoyable. I will pass your feedback on to the team, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.’

Be brave, and start responding. Your competitors never do it, and look at what people say about them!

More: How to Handle Negative Reviews & Comments Online
How to Use Google Alerts for Restaurant Marketing
8 Legal Ways to Spy on your Competition

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks Damien – I think it’s called ‘internet disinhibition’… prepared to say something online you would NEVER say to a person’s face. Hard to handle. If you want to see someone who does take time to acknowledge the good and occasional wrinkle, the people at Lucio’s are a shining example http://goo.gl/KbaCL2

    Cheers – Ken

  2. says

    Anonymity of the internet has caused every slack jawed yolkel to think they are the greatest critic since cleopatra.
    Its also a great place for people to stick the knife in and give it a twist if they did not think the girl at the bar “handled their affectionate approaches properly” or their pillow case did not have the right thread count.
    On the whole though, I think a vast majority of people are pretty decent. Unfortunately they are also too busy to leave a good review much of the time. But if you honestly care about your customers, many of them notice, and you will get the good reviews eventually.
    I do like the simple response thing though, even if I am uncapable if it myself!

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