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How to Respond to Bad Restaurant Reviews in 2024 (Actionable Tips & Examples)


No matter how many positive reviews they’ve earned, a single one-star review hurts every restaurant owner. Not only do restaurant owners see the negative feedback, but so do all potential customers on review sites who may be considering dining there.

By leaving bad reviews on a review site, restaurant critics can actually hurt restaurant businesses in the process – however, with the right approach, you can turn a bad review into a business opportunity that’ll help your restaurant bounce back. Start by tracking your reviews.

Where can you track and collect restaurant reviews?

From minor to scathing restaurant reviews, you need to stay updated with guest feedback to respond to it promptly and help resolve a negative restaurant experience as soon as possible. Here are some of the most popular communities and websites for collecting and tracking customer feedback:

1. Google

To start collecting feedback on Google, you need to set up a Google Business Profile for restaurants. A Google My Business (GMB) profile, often called a Google Business Profile, is a free web listing that provides key details about a restaurant. Then, when potential guests look for a certain restaurant or browse dining alternatives in a given location, your business appears in Google search results and Google Maps.

Once you’ve set up your account, turn on alerts to receive notifications when new reviews appear on your business. You can also check our article for tips on getting more Google restaurant reviews.

A good food review comments sample on Google

2. Facebook

Your fan page is another place your potential customers will check before coming to or ordering from your restaurant. Keep an eye on your Facebook page, reply immediately, and interact with your followers. You may develop an excellent online reputation, get insightful comments, and attract more guests by actively monitoring your restaurant’s Facebook reviews.

 restaurant review examples on Facebook

3. Tripadvisor

TripAdvisor is one of the most popular online review websites in the world that allows customers to leave reviews and ratings for restaurants. To start collecting reviews on Tripadvisor, claim your restaurant’s listing on it. Once you’ve done so, create a management account and link it to your restaurant’s listing so you can track and respond to reviews.

TripAdvisor keeps you up-to-date with email notifications on new reviews, and creates a report that helps you gain valuable information about review trends, ratings, and client feedback.

Feedback on a restaurant comment section on TripAdvisor

4. Yelp

Like TripAdvisor for restaurants, Yelp is also a well-known platform where users can share their dining experience with a worldwide community. To start collecting reviews on Yelp, claim your restaurant’s listing. Once done, you can read and share stories, respond to reviews, and more.

Additionally, you can use the Yelp widget and embed on your website to showcase your restaurant’s Yelp rating and reviews. These widgets can attract attention and encourage visitors to leave reviews after their meal.

An example of bad restaurant reviews on Yelp

5. Your restaurant website

You can also decide on collecting restaurant feedback on your restaurant website. You can use a restaurant website builder to create your website with its own food ordering system. Implementing such a system allows you to automatically gather customer opinions.

Unlike third-party websites, you can collect reviews on your website’s feedback page. Send automated feedback request forms to clients directly, collect reviews from Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor, and share them directly on your website to get more food orders.

Important note on customer review management

With UpMenu, you have the flexibility to choose whether or not to showcase customer feedback on your website. Even if you opt not to display them, you still have the opportunity to respond to these reviews.

Examples of really bad restaurant reviews

Here are a few examples of one-star reviews left by dissatisfied customers. But, of course, each bad experience has its unique story, ranging from bad food and long wait times to terrible service or food not worth the money.

How to respond to bad restaurant reviews – 8 Tips

Bad restaurant reviews can hit your business hard. However, you can always bounce back by apologizing for a client’s bad experience. Get started by grabbing our step-by-step guide below, which will help you craft your response.

DON’Ts for addressing negative restaurant reviews

  • Don’t take bad restaurant reviews personally: a negative restaurant review can be painful to read, but bear in mind that it’s just a review. Address what it concerns and look for the best approach to resolve it.
  • Don’t get defensive: how you respond to a negative review can help or hurt your business’ reputation online. By becoming defensive towards criticism, potential clients might see you as rude and unprofessional, which may deter them from your business. 
  • Don’t respond to bad restaurant reviews under the influence of emotions: responding to reviews when feeling emotion can have the wrong implications. You might come off as aggressive or condescending, which might turn off the person reading your comment, thus losing you a potential client.
  • Don’t hesitate to respond to bad restaurant reviews: waiting to respond to reviews for extended periods can make you look like you don’t take client reviews seriously – which is one of the worst ways to address a bad review.

Tip 1: Don’t react under the influence of emotions 

Try to calm down before you respond to bad restaurant reviews. They can hurt your business if you react emotionally. Negative reviews must be handled with professionalism and composure. 

Tip 2: Take sufficient time to plan your response 

Plan your response, but avoid excessive delays. Instead, invest the time to comprehend the reviewer’s viewpoint, and respectfully respond to their issues. According to ReviewTrackers, the speed of response is crucial when addressing bad restaurant reviews. About 53% of customers expect a response within a week, and 21% anticipate a reply within 24 hours.

Tip 3: Always thank a reviewer 

Thanking a reviewer, even after they have left a negative review, is an important part of maintaining a professional and customer-centric approach. Thank them for taking the time to share their ideas and their input. Let them know that you value their opinions and that you are attentive to their worries.

Tip 4: Apologize for what happened 

Apologize sincerely for the unpleasant experience they had. Acknowledge the effect it had on their dining experience to show empathy. Let them know that you value their satisfaction and that you sincerely apologize for any trouble you may have caused. At this point, you want to show your guests that you’re on their side.

Tip 5: Address the issue

Depending on the issue, take appropriate steps to rectify the situation. For example, if the problem was due to poor service, talk to the employees, and consider additional training. If the negative feedback was due to price issues, food quality, or the size of the dishes, consider offering the client a discount and implementing some changes to your menu.

Tip 6: Provide a solution or offer incentives

Express your willingness to make things right and provide a solution if appropriate. For example, suppose a customer leaves a negative review after placing an order online. In that case, you can offer them a special discount, invite them back for a better experience, and offer to continue the conversation offline. This shows your dedication to customer happiness and readiness to answer their problems.

Tip 7: Suggest continuing the conversation offline

Try to move the conversation offline, and encourage reviewers to move to other channels like mail, phone, or direct message. This helps to resolve the issue one-on-one, without getting other readers involved in the situation. 

Tip 8: Invite customers back

Extend an invitation for the reviewer to revisit your restaurant in the future. Reiterate your commitment to enhancing both the dining experience and your restaurant. Assure the reviewer that their input will be valued and productively used to make the necessary adjustments and that when they return, they’ll have a positive experience and improved service. Additionally, you may want to consider a comped meal as a form of apology. 

DO’s for addressing negative restaurant reviews

  • Do Engage with the Reviewer: Directly address the reviewer in your response. Treat the reviewer with respect and refrain from being aggressive or confrontational. Your response should demonstrate your dedication to providing first-rate customer service.
  • Do Apologize: Present sincere apologies for any negative experience they had. Honestly apologize and show sympathy for the reviewer’s frustration. Let them know that you value their opinions and that the level of service you aim to deliver is not reflected in their experience.
  • Do Provide a Solution: Respond to any comments or issues stated by the reviewer specifically. Offer an explanation or information regarding any misunderstandings and any solutions or actions you are taking to resolve the issue.
  • Do Encourage Private Discussion with a Reviewer: Suggest to continue the conversation offline to settle the dispute privately if it is suitable. To better address the reviewer’s concerns, give them your contact information or encourage them to get in touch with you.
  • Do Follow up and Take Action: Follow through on any pledges or commitments made during an encounter with the reviewer. Take the appropriate actions to allay their worries and enhance the offerings and services at your restaurant.

Examples of bad restaurant reviews and possible answers 

Below are a few examples of bad restaurant reviews and responses provided by a restaurant.

Examples of bad restaurant answers

Examples of good restaurant answers

What should you improve to avoid getting bad restaurant reviews?

Carefully analyze all bad restaurant reviews to address the issues mentioned by the customers and use the opportunity to learn. There might be different areas you could improve in your restaurant to avoid negative reviews, including

  • The quality of food served in your restaurant: Food quality directly impacts customer satisfaction. Customers have expectations for the flavor, freshness, presentation, and overall dining experience when they visit a restaurant.
  • A menu that accommodates all dietary preferences: By providing a menu that accommodates all dietary preferences, you create an inclusive and accessible dining experience for a wide range of customers. This guarantees that those with certain dietary preferences or restrictions can eat at your restaurant without feeling excluded or constrained in their options.
  • The pricing strategy of your menu items: The pricing of your menu items influences the perceived value of your offerings. Setting reasonable rates can improve the perceived worth of your cuisine and foster a favorable perception of your restaurant because customers frequently equate greater prices with higher quality. To draw in and keep customers, finding a balance between pricing and perceived value is crucial.
  • The level of service provided to customers: Providing excellent service ensures customer satisfaction. When customers feel valued, heard, and well taken care of, they are more likely to have a positive experience at your restaurant. Satisfied customers are more likely to return, leave positive reviews, and recommend your establishment to others, contributing to your restaurant’s success.
  • The atmosphere in your restaurant: The ambiance determines the tone of the dining experience and has a direct impact on patron happiness and comfort. Customers are made to feel at ease, welcomed, and relaxed by a beautifully designed and welcoming environment. 
  • The intuitive online ordering process: Customers enjoy the convenience of browsing menus, placing orders, and making payments online while at home or on the go. If you use a food ordering system in your restaurant, make sure that the online ordering process is intuitive and packed with features to help you better run and manage your business.

Key Takeaways

  • Responding to bad restaurant reviews in a timely manner is a must.
  • Your potential customers rely on past customers’ reviews.
  • Monitor reviews, which appear on: Google, Tripadvisor, Yelp, your restaurant website and on social media channels.
  • Automatically gather customer feedback with UpMenu online ordering system.
  • Respond to bad restaurant reviews and decide whether to display them on your restaurant website.
  • While responding to bad restaurant reviews, always engage with the reviewer and apologize for mistakes.
  • Address the issues and inform reviewers what steps are taken to eliminate the described problems. 
  • Invite the reviewers back so that they can see the improvements you made based on their opinion. 
  • Look for the restaurant improvement areas based on customer feedback from restaurant survey questions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

On third-party review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Google, restaurants often cannot remove negative reviews. These platforms have rules and regulations prohibiting companies from removing or tampering with reviews. These guidelines serve as a safeguard for the honesty and objectivity of the review process as well as a transparent forum for users to discuss their views.

Reviews can, however, in rare circumstances, be reported or flagged if they break the platform’s rules. For example, if a review is judged improper, fraudulent, or in breach of the review platform’s terms of service, the platform may look into the situation and remove the review.
Yes, reviews matter significantly for restaurants. They strongly influence consumer behavior, where positive reviews can attract new customers to your restaurant, whereas negative reviews can deter potential customers. 

Reviews can also provide insights into what customers appreciate about your restaurant and areas where improvements can be made. Constructive review criticism can help identify areas that could use fixing and guide your efforts to continuously improve the quality of your offerings, service, and overall customer experience.

Negative online reviews are typically impossible to remove or delete, especially on third-party review sites. Therefore, strict guidelines are in place on these platforms to preserve the legitimacy and integrity of the review system.

However, there are several actions you may take to moderate and lessen the effects of unfavorable reviews, including:

  • Monitor and React: Keep tabs on new reviews, both favorable and unfavorable, by routinely monitoring online review platforms. Negative reviews should be addressed quickly and professionally, displaying your dedication to customer satisfaction and addressing the reviewer’s issues.
  • Encourage Positive Reviews: Put your energy into generating more positive than negative reviews. By including a polite request on receipts, through signage in your restaurant, on your website, and on social media platforms, you can persuade pleased customers to submit reviews.
  • Address Problems and Make Improvements: Take the opportunity provided by unfavorable evaluations to pinpoint areas that need work. Analyze the comments made and take appropriate action to resolve any recurring problems. You can avoid further negative reviews by aggressively addressing issues and making improvements.
  • Use Online Reputation Management Services: You can use online reputation management services that are focused on keeping an eye on and controlling the internet reputation of your restaurant. These services can advise you on how to respond to negative comments, get more favorable evaluations, and offer techniques to lessen the effects of such criticism

Yes, responding to negative reviews can significantly improve a restaurant’s reputation. When handled thoughtfully, it demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction and can influence potential customers positively. It also allows you to address and rectify issues, potentially turning dissatisfied customers into loyal ones who appreciate your responsiveness and willingness to improve.

Online reputation management is crucial for restaurants in today’s digital age. Monitoring and actively managing your presence on review platforms and social media can help you maintain a positive image, attract more customers, and address issues promptly. It’s an essential aspect of building and sustaining a successful restaurant business.

Juliusz Dzierlatka

Juliusz Dzierlatka

Digital content creator with +7 years experience in marketing, helping restaurants streamline daily operations.

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