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Best Practices for Responding to Reviews

Posted by Localyser | November 11, 2021

How do you respond to a bad Google review? What about a positive one? Or all of the neutral reviews in between?

We’ve got you covered with the best practices for responding to reviews: From one-star and neutral reviews to five-star positive feedback, here’s how to respond to reviews the right way.

How do you respond to a review? Best practices from restaurant industry pros. 

Other than Google reviews, Yelp ratings are crucial for restaurant owners; tied for top place, restaurants make up 18% of all 224 million reviews on the platform. And the way you reply to reviews matters—restaurants that can add a half-star rating to their Yelp page are 19% more likely to fill their dining rooms during peak hours.

Follow these best practices for responding to reviews and see the power of positive reviews firsthand.

Best practices for responding to negative (one-star) reviews

No one wants to wake up in the morning only to find their restaurant received a bad review, but it happens to the best of us. Here’s how to reply to a one-star review.

When responding to negative reviews, focus on:

  • Rapid review responses : 7 out of 10 people change their perception of a brand based on their response to online reviews. You need to act fast and address your customers’ unpleasant experiences as soon as possible. This shows any potential customers that you’re taking steps to fix the issue and that you genuinely care about their experience at your restaurant.
  • Your review committee : You should establish a review committee consisting of the people who will be in charge of responding to Google reviews. Whoever is responsible for addressing negative reviews needs to be able to communicate with your customers clearly and resolve any problems while representing your restaurant in a way that your future customers will look back on positively.

The best responses to bad reviews consist of:

  1. An appreciation for their feedback
  2. An apology for the issue
  3. Actionable steps to resolve the problem

Best practices for responding to neutral (three-star) reviews

While neutral reviews aren’t the worst thing that can happen to your restaurant, nothing beats five stars. Here’s what you can do to mitigate any damage from ratings that aren’t quite positive or negative.

When commenting on neutral reviews, it’s important to:

  • Reinforce the positive feedback for future customers. Many times, neutral reviews are actually positive reviews hidden behind a less-than-perfect star rating. If you get a Google review that contains some negative feedback but showcases an overall positive experience, start your response by mentioning the good. It’s as simple as leading with something like, “We’re glad that you enjoyed your meal” before getting into the negative side of things.
  • Address the negative feedback. One mistake many restaurant owners make is ignoring an unhappy customer even though their online review contained some positive notes. After acknowledging the good, take the opportunity to apologize for whatever they were unhappy with, offer an explanation of what went wrong, and mention the steps you’re currently taking to ensure that the problem doesn’t happen again.

The best responses to neutral Google reviews contain:

  1. An affirmation of the customer’s positive experience
  2. An apology and solution to the negative part of their experience
  3. A request for them to try your restaurant again

Best practices for responding to positive (five-star) reviews

You’ve added another five-star Google review or Yelp rating—great! But the work’s not done yet. Here’s how you can earn repeat business and bring in new customers by responding to five-star reviews.

When you reply to positive reviews, make sure that you:

  • Thank your happy customers. If your customers take the time to leave a Google review about their positive experiences at your restaurant, they deserve your attention. Getting great reviews and high star ratings helps attract new customers and convince them to give your restaurant a shot. And it’s not just Google reviews: Harvard Business Review found that the higher a restaurant’s rating on Yelp, the higher their sales. Let your customers know how happy you are to have their business!
  • Reinforce the positive customer feedback. Identify the specific things in a customer’s review that they say affected their experience and mention them in your response. This adds some personalization to your reply and introduces an easy way to entice them to come back. For example, if they named a certain dish they really enjoyed, you can reply with, “We’re so glad you enjoyed <dish>. Next time you stop by, we think you’d love <recommended dish based on what they liked>!”.

The best responses to positive customer reviews include:

  1. A genuine thank you
  2. A personalized touch
  3. A reason for them to visit your restaurant again

Manage your online reputation & customer reviews with Localyser

When writing customer review responses, it’s important to remember that they will influence the way that future customers see your restaurant. Your restaurant’s online reputation relies not only on what customers are saying about you, but also on how you handle business review responses. Following these best practices for responding to reviews is a great first step, but what’s next?

Localyser is a premier online reputation management platform designed for restaurants. We can help you monitor your reviews across the web, respond to reviews in a single click, and generate more positive reviews. Get your demo today and see how Localyser can help increase your restaurant’s star rating.

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