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Anatomy Of A Restaurant’s Response To A Negative Online Review

negative review response template

So you got a negative review recently on an online review site like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Google, now what? Do you respond? Do you ignore it? Do you hope it will go away or that nobody will read it?

We recommend that each negative review gets a thoughtful response from you. Online review sites continue to shape customer’s decisions about where they are going to dine. While you can’t directly control what is said, you can control your public response. Below you’ll find the 3 components to a great owner’s response.

Before we analyze a great response to a negative review, here are some key points to remember:

  • Be sure to get claim your listings & get notified when a review is posted. Here are instructions on how to claim your profile & get notified for reviews on each of the top 4 review sites.
  • When responding to reviews, you’re goal is not to win an argument, it is diffuse the negative review and show a thoughtful & engaged ownership/management team at the restaurant
  • Your response isn’t just for the individual that wrote it, it is for the thousands of people that will see the review and your response in the future.

Here is our quick guide on how to respond to a negative review:

1. Say thank you

The quickest way to diffuse negativity is with gratitude. Say thank you t0 the reviewer for taking the time to provide their feedback. No need to gush, just a quick thanks.

“Hi (person’s first name),

Thank you for taking the time to write a review here on (review site)…”

2. Acknowledge their feedback & give a sincere apology

Make sure you show that you heard their specific feedback (food, service, ambiance, etc), that the experience they had on their visit was less than what you strive for.

“…We always strive to provide excellent service & great food in a comfortable and friendly environment, we are very sorry you didn’t find that on your recent visit…”

3. Learn more offline

Transition into learning more about their experience and utilizing the feedback to help improve for the future. Ask them to provide more details to take the conversation private via email.

“…We often hear of the great things here at (your restaurant’s name) but it is helpful to hear when things aren’t so good as well. If you are willing, please email me at (your public email) with the approximate date & time of your visit and any other details you can recall. We would like an opportunity to learn more from your feedback and do everything we can to create an enjoyable dining experience for every one of our guests in the future…”

A complete response to any negative review should include these 3 components. Your goal is to take the conversation offline to your email inbox. Here is the complete response template:

Hi (person’s first name),

Thank you for taking the time to write a review here on (review site). We always strive to provide excellent service & great food in a comfortable and friendly environment, we are very sorry you didn’t find that on your recent visit. We often hear of the great things here at (your restaurant’s name) but it is helpful to hear when things aren’t so good as well. If you are willing, please email me at (your public email) with the approximate date & time of your visit and any other details you can recall. We would like an opportunity to learn more from your feedback and do everything we can to create an enjoyable dining experience for every one of our guests in the future. Thank you again!

-(Personal signature)

While there are many ways to word a response, we recommend starting with a thank you, acknowledging the feedback, sincerely apologize, and learn more offline.