How to Win Back Customers from a Negative Review
How to Win Back Customers from a Negative Review
Posted By
March 7, 2022

In a social media-driven world, reviews impact whether a business will be successful or not. It may take years to build a stellar reputation, only for one badly-handled negative review to tarnish it.

Although it may seem intimidating, negative reviews shouldn’t be stressful. In this article, we’ll help you navigate the world of negative reviews in a positive way, so you can get back to doing what you do best: running a successful restaurant.

8 Tips To Handling Negative Reviews

Your business has received a negative review, now what? Take a deep breath, it’s not the end of the world! Here are a few tips to navigating the treacherous seas of client management.

1. The customer is always right so take responsibility

Coined by American magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge in the 1900s, there’s a reason this phrase has withstood the decades.

There is no point in arguing with an upset client, even if your business has a valid reason for poor service – or even if the customer was in the wrong.

When a client takes the time to post a negative review, be open-minded to the critique, take responsibility, and see it as an opportunity to improve.

Create a positive environment by taking responsibility, and listening to what the client has to say.

2. Think before you respond

Have you ever wanted to type a rude reply to an unfair client’s complaint? You’re not alone. We’re all human (with fierce emotions), and your natural response to criticism may be to fight back.

As an emotionally intelligent restaurant owner, however, your natural response should be to remain calm and respond to a negative review in a professional manner.

Still considering hitting the enter button after crafting a scathig response? Never type while angry! Take a walk, think about what you’re going to say, and respond when you’re feeling more level-headed.

3. Keep all your hate mail (and give a scathing response that you never send)

No matter how many walks and deep breaths you take, sometimes a nasty review just leaves you fuming.

Instead of having this negative review take over your life, write down what you really want to say – get it all out of your system – and never send it. You’ll feel a lot better.

4. Have a customer complaint protocol in place

Having a manageable customer complaint protocol in place will make dealing with negative reviews more straightforward.

Here are the easiest steps to take when a negative review lands on your desk or social media feed:

  • Document the complaint and report it to the necessary employee or department manager.
  • Establish the legitimacy of the review. Common signs of a fake reviewer include a generic name, no profile picture, and a complaint that no one in your business can confirm.
  • If the complaint is legit, find the root of the problem. This might be a supply chain issue, a mistake by an employee, or miscommunication.
  • Once you know the root of the issue, it’s time to find a workable solution.
  • Follow up with the customer who made the complaint. Explain which steps will be taken to solve the issue, or to prevent it from happening again.
  • If necessary, inform them of the incentive that your business is willing to offer.
  • Sometimes, even bad reviewers can become loyal clients after good review management. If the client seems happy with the end results of your protocol, consider asking them to leave another (this time positive) review to say that the issue has been dealt with professionally, and that they are now satisfied.

5. Compensate a complaining customer

Unhappy clients don’t complain about poor service or product issues just because they have nothing better to do.

An aggrieved customer is probably unhappy because their expectations weren’t met and they feel like they wasted their time and money.

Once you understand why a client is unhappy, offer compensation to make up for their negative experience. This may include a refund for their purchase, an on-the-house meal, or a voucher to use at your business in future.

Compensating an unhappy client will help win back clients’ trust.

6. Take the conversation offline

While having positive reviews on the internet boosts your restaurant’s image, communicating with an unhappy client may not be a conversation that you want to post publicly.

When first responding to a client, ask them if you can discuss the matter further with them directly.

Below is an example of how Starbucks’ client response team politely dealt with a complaint while also asking a client to contact them directly.

For your own business, your response can be something along the lines of:

“Hello (insert client name here). Thank you for your feedback, we appreciate the time you’ve taken to help us improve our business! We apologize for (insert complaint here),this is unexceptable! Could you kindly send us a message with more details so we can immediately look into the matter?”

7. Use social media to show that you care

Social media is a scary place, especially for a business trying to protect their reputation. Internet trolls are real!

However, a business should never ignore negative reviews on social media, as this may lead to one unhappy client affecting the thoughts and retail decisions of hundreds of potential clients.

No matter how professional your website is or how high-quality your products look, if there are multiple unanswered negative reviews, the chances are high that potential clients will be running for the hills and taking their wallets with them.

Instead, use social media to reply to each and every review. That’s right, even to the trolls. This provides social proof that your business takes its clients seriously, and is concerned with client satisfaction.

8. Prevent client confusion

Often, businesses receive negative reviews about something that could’ve been prevented by simply communicating with their clients.

Here is a great example of how a business informed clients beforehand of an issue, instead of waiting for complaints to start coming in. They also kept the client updated during the process, which clients are sure to appreciate.

If, for example, your store is going to be closed for maintenance, be sure to inform clients of this well in advance. Such situations can even be used to your business’ advantage, as an opportunity to encourage purchases.

Here is an example of a message you could send to clients in this case:

“Hey (insert customer name)! Just a heads up that we’ll be closed for the Christmas weekend, so we kindly encourage you to get your orders in as soon as possible so we can send them to your loved ones in time for the Festive Season. Our last day of taking orders will be (insert date here). Thank you for your understanding!”

Here is an example of how a busy florist encouraged their clients to get their Valentine’s orders in as soon as possible:

A kickstarter to helping you respond to negative reviews

Now that you know the ins and outs of handling reviews, it’s time to respond to yours! Here are a few templates to help you along the process.

When their contact details are unknown

Hi there (client name),

Thank you for your feedback. As we strive for excellent client care, we really appreciate the time that you’ve taken to reach out to us.

We apologize for your negative experience, and would appreciate the opportunity to rectify this as soon as possible.

Kindly drop us a message with your contact details, and we’ll be in touch shortly to discuss how we can make your experience with us better.

Thank you!

[Name – optional]

When you have the contact details

Hi there (client name),

As one of our loyal customers, we appreciate the time that you’ve taken to reach out to us about your negative experience today – thank you!

We apologize that our product or service has not met your expectations. We strive for excellence, and would love for the opportunity to make it up to you.

We have your contact details on record, and will be in touch shortly to discuss a solution that will best fit your needs.

Kind regards

[Name – optional]

When you need more information

Hi there (client name),

Thank you for reaching out to us today, we appreciate your feedback! Can you kindly provide us with more information (*this may include a restaurant chain, a branch of a business, or the staff member they worked with) so we can rectify this issue?

Please drop a comment down below or send us a direct message, and we’ll get the issue sorted!

Thank you again, we appreciate your time and efforts.

Kind regards

[Name – optional]

Monitoring online reviews made easy

Reviews are daunting, but they don’t have to be. Localyser helps multi-location restaurant brands improve their online reputation by making it easy to monitor and respond to reviews from multiple sources plus generate more positive feedback from happy customers.

Book a Localyser demo today and turn a negative review into a positive opportunity for business growth and improvement.

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Let us show you how.