person wearing plaid and frowning at their phoneperson looking at a 1 star review

How to Handle Bad Reviews

Every bar, restaurant or other food establishment cringes at the idea of receiving a poor review. Whether sent via Twitter or left as a comment on Yelp, bad reviews are a reality that every business faces at some point. Of course, proper handling of poor reviews determines the long-term impact they have on your customer base and reputation. Today, we’ll discuss the best ways to handle bad reviews.

Social Media

With social media outlets like Twitter at Facebook, customers have new ways to express the bad experiences they had at a food establishment. Sharing and retweeting only makes the threat of poor reviews more threatening, as word can quickly spread to the reviewer’s friends or followers of your establishment’s accounts.

Fortunately, there are several ways to take control of the situation before it blows out of control. Once you notice a negative comment or tweet, reply to that person for more information. If the customer said they disliked the food, ask what they ordered. Depending on the severity of the situation, you might also need to send them your email address for a more private discussion. With any communication, make sure you apologize to the customer. This doesn’t change what already happened, but shows the customer you understand their frustration.

Website Reviews

Review sites like Yelp are people’s go-to source for reliable customer reviews on all types of businesses. Similar to social media, customers can express their frustration on customer service or negative thoughts on the food. However, star ratings coupled with permanent comment sections mean bad reviews have a long-term impact on your business’ overall image.

Before you reply to poor website reviews, take the time to read and understand what the customer had to say. If the review says it took too long to receive beverages, it’s likely that other customers have had a similar experience. Most bad reviews contain valuable information you can use to improve your establishment's service or menu.

When it’s time to reply to the bad review, make sure you do so with little emotional charge. If you are unsure as to how your reply will be taken, ask someone to read it before sending. How you deal with a negative review is very important so choose your wording carefully! Similar to handling social media complaints, you can ask the reviewer for more information or simply pass along your contact information. If the reviewer had several concerns, make sure you address each one in your reply.

Next Steps

It’s important to not let bad reviews get the best of you. Customer’s thoughts directly reflect your restaurant and it’s easy to take them personally. Instead, take the time to make necessary improvements so customers in the future don’t encounter that same issue. If service was slow, was that night particularly busy or should more people be on that shift?

If this was your first experience with handling a poor review, take a look back to see what steps you took. Did you address the concern an hour after it was posted? A few days after? Having a procedure in place to handle poor reviews will prevent your establishment from gaining a reputation as one that doesn’t address customer concerns. Someone should always be monitoring your web presence to look out for negative feedback. Speak with relevant staff to better understand the situation.

Addressing a negative review not only makes the customer feel like they’ve been heard, but can also restore their faith in your business. Who knows, after receiving quick and genuine service, the reviewer might become one of your biggest advocates!