How to Respond to a Negative Online Review

If you’re like most businesses, a negative review can seem devastating. You want customers to have a perfect experience at your establishment, every time. Take a deep breath and relax – there are strategies for handling online reviews and recovering customer loyalty in a way that can actually benefit your store in the long run.

Here are some strategies for handling negative online reviews:


1. Ensure you have a system for monitoring all of your social media and communication channels (email, mail, web, social media, mobile & QR codes.) Make sure you keep abreast of what is being posted about your restaurant online. A timely response shows the reviewer – and prospective clients who read the review and your response – that you are sincerely interested in your customers and are actively involved in your business. A prompt response also prevents the negativity from lingering and raising questions in the minds of your prospective customers.

2. Don’t panic when you receive a negative review (and most businesses do at one time or another.) Try not to take the criticism personally or get defensive. This is one person’s experience and things might not have been as bad as they were characterized; it’s important to keep things in perspective.


3. Examine your store and evaluate whether there is any truth to the complaint or not. If there is, make a plan for correcting the problem. If the allegations are unfounded, use the information to help you understand what customers really expect from your restaurant. Think of reviews as consumer research – to be heeded with a grain of salt, of course.


4. Craft a careful response. It is best to apologize publicly and then address the customer privately so you can address his or her concerns individually. If appropriate, state what you are doing to correct the problem and then invite the reviewer to come back and ask for you or the manager so you can ensure they have a positive experience this time. Your customer may even go in and retract the complaint or write a follow up telling about their successful experience.


Perhaps the most important thing you can do over the long-haul is to be proactive and encourage positive reviews. Building up a bank of good reviews will go a long way toward countering one or two negative ones.


Customer recovery is a way to build sustainable relationships with customers. Customer recovery is a way to convert one-time visitors into repeat ones. When your company responds to reviews, you are engaging with customers personally and thanking them. That goes a long way toward building loyal customers.


By recovering from a negative review, you may find that customers are even more satisfied than if they had never had a problem in the first place. There’s a growing body of evidence that customer service recovery systems actually convert customers into loyal and profitable fans.


If you would like help managing your online reputation and responding to negative - and positive - online reviews - don't hesitate to contact us! We'd love to help! Email us at


Has your business had a negative online review? How did you handle the complaint? Let us know what has worked - or hasn't worked - for your business!

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