As restaurant owners, we’re always told about the importance of online reviews for gaining insights into our customers’ truest thoughts and opinions. But no one ever tells us the specifics about these reviews—the good ones, the poor ones, the ones about food, the ones about service, etc.
Keep reading and learn all about how to respond to specific review topics.
Positive reviews about a customer’s dining experience brings in more business. But bad reviews can be challenging to overcome in the restaurant industry. This is because new customers do multiple review searches before eating at your restaurant. So here’s how to teach your team to respond to food reviews:
There’s nothing better than reading customer reviews that rave about the quality of your food. Here’s an example of how to effectively respond to a positive food review:
“Thanks for the great review, [customer’s name]! At [restaurant’s name], we believe using the freshest, highest-quality ingredients makes all the difference, and we agree—you can’t go wrong with the [customer’s dish]. Next time you stop by, we think you’d really enjoy [recommended dish]. See you again soon!”
Now, here’s a similar but less-effective response:
“Thanks for the review. We agree; our food is great, and we hope to see you again soon!”
The difference between a great review response and an okay one is being specific and repeating the information your customer included, like their name and the dish they enjoyed.
Unfortunately, not every customer will enjoy their meal. Whether it was a genuine mistake on your part or simply the rantings of a picky eater, here’s how to respond to a negative food review:
“Hey, [customer’s name], we’re so sorry to hear that your meal didn’t meet your expectations. You never need to hesitate to reach out to our team if something’s not 100% perfect. The way you described [customer’s meal] doesn’t sound great to us either, and we’d love to continue this conversation to see where we went wrong and how we can make it up to you! Please get a hold of us at [restaurant contact info]—we look forward to hearing from you.”
A bad response to a negative food review would look like:
“We’re sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your meal. Many of our customers rave about our [customer’s meal]; it’s hard to believe that anyone could dislike it! We’d love for you to visit us again, and we’re sure that you would enjoy [recommended dishes] if our [customer’s meal] wasn’t what you were looking for!”
This response does what we see a lot of businesses do when replying to negative feedback—shifting the blame to the customer. And it isn’t good for your online reputation.
Always include a sincere apology and a genuine interest in finding the cause of the problem and a solution to fix it.
Customer service reviews can make or break your business. Have your team follow these guidelines for responding to your customers’ experiences in the dining room:
Positive reviews about customer service and dining experience are as important as 5-star feedback on your food. Here’s how to respond to customers who had an exceptional experience at your restaurant:
“Thanks for sharing this review of your experience at our restaurant, [customer’s name]. Our team at [restaurant’s name] is committed to providing our customers with high-quality, timely service, and we’re thrilled that we lived up to your expectations! We look forward to serving you again.”
Here’s an example of a not-so-good response to a positive service review:
“We’re so glad that you had a great experience at our restaurant. We pride ourselves on our top-notch food and customer service and love to see when we live up to our guests’ expectations. We can’t wait to see you again!”
While it’s much harder to respond poorly to positive feedback than it is to a negative review, the example above does something you should avoid—being too generic. Ideally, you want to write personalized, original responses to each review.
Negative service reviews can turn potential customers away from your restaurant, even if you have hundreds of great reviews about your food.
Responding to these reviews properly is crucial to mitigate any damage to your reputation. An effective way to respond to feedback about a customer’s negative dining experience looks like this:
“We’re so sorry to hear that you had a negative experience with our staff. We’ve discussed your review with our team so that we can work to improve our service. We hope you’ll give us a chance to welcome you back for a meal again, and if you contact us at [restaurant contact info], we’ll be happy to discuss your experience in more detail so we can make it right and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Here’s what you don’t want to say:
“We’re so sorry that you had a negative experience with our staff; we pride ourselves on our service, and all of our customers seem to love our team! As for the long wait times, we’re always busy during dinner hours—we recommend that you come visit us during lunch or make a reservation next time!”
When responding to these negative reviews, you don’t want to justify the way a customer perceived your staff or why wait times were so long.
Simply apologize, let the customer know you’re working on the issue, and offer them a direct line of contact with you to discuss their experience.
Take-out and delivery options have become a huge part of the restaurant industry. If you want your business to thrive, efficient take-out and delivery performance is crucial. Here’s how to make the most out of your customer feedback:
Positive reviews about your take-out and delivery service can get your food in front of endless potential customers. People want their take-out and delivery fast, hot, and fresh. And if you can provide that, they’re more likely to order directly from your restaurant rather than through a third-party delivery service. You can reply to your positive customer reviews like this:
“Hey, [customer’s name]! We’re glad to hear that your [take-out or delivery] was perfect. Our staff works hard to time your [take-out or delivery] order so it’s hot, fresh, and ready just when you want it. Thanks for taking advantage of our [take-out or delivery] option, and we’re looking forward to serving you again soon!”
You don’t want to mention any other delivery services like DoorDash, Grubhub, or Uber Eats. For example, don’t say:
“Hey, [customer’s name]! We appreciate you ordering [take-out or delivery] through our restaurant instead of using [popular delivery service in your area]—it really helps us out! We’re glad that everything came out perfect and hope to bring your favorite meal to you again soon.”
While it is nice to thank your customers for avoiding the popular delivery apps, it’s basically free advertising for their service when you reply to reviews like this.
Customers that love your food but have had a bad experience with your take-out or delivery services might end up using third-party apps to order from your restaurant.
This affects your profits while removing upselling opportunities. Use this example to respond to these reviews the right way:
“Hey, [customer’s name], thank you for your honest feedback about our [take-out or delivery] service. It’s obvious that your order didn’t go the way we wanted it to. We’re continually trying to improve our customers’ take-out and delivery experience, and reviews like yours are what help us do it! We apologize for the inconvenience, and if you get in touch with us at [restaurant’s contact info], we’ll make it right. Thank you again—your feedback allows us to ensure a better experience for you and all of our customers in the future.”
Don’t blame the customer or outside factors—you waited too long to pick up your order, there was heavy traffic, the dining room was busy, etc. Avoid responding to reviews like this:
“We’re sorry to hear that [your food was cold/your order was incorrect/delivery took longer than expected/etc.]! [Our delivery driver ran into a problem/we must have misunderstood your order/we experienced an unexpected lunch rush/etc.]; our [take-our or delivery] usually goes smoothly. Give us a call at [restaurant’s contact info], and we’ll take care of your next order!”
Don’t make guesses or excuses as to why their order didn’t go as planned. While offering a free meal in exchange for their inconvenience can be a good idea in some instances, it’s better to offer an apology and show you’re working to ensure the same mistake doesn’t happen again.
Finally, we want to leave you with some words and phrases to use in your review responses—and some to stay away from.
Do use sincere and personalized wording:
Don’t play the blame game, make excuses, or use these phrases:
To learn more about the best ways to respond to your customer reviews, view our articles on best practices from restaurant industry pros.
Also, if you’d like to take your restaurant to the next level, book your free Localyser demo and we’ll monitor, respond to, and generate positive customer feedback.
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