While we all know the internet provides incredible tools to make the promotion and operation of your restaurant, bar or cafe easier, it also provides plenty of opportunities for your customers to provide feedback in a very public forum. Hopefully, the majority of your online feedback is good, but—as we all know—with the good comes the bad (and the downright ugly)! 

The most important part of monitoring and managing online reviews from the public is just that: monitoring and managing them, instead of letting them sit unanswered for everyone to see. Your responses aren’t just important because they give you credibility and reflect your commitment to customer service, but because engaging with your Google reviews also improves your local area SEO! 

Read on for some tips that we use every single day when monitoring clients’ social media and web presence.

1. Balance their objective with your response

Negative reviews or comments generally come on a sliding scale from “reasonable and polite” to “rabid wild beast”. Mostly, though, the objective of the user will just be to share their honest feedback about the food, service, or general experience, rather than destroy your business’ reputation (even if it feels that way…). In these cases, we like to reply with an equally-as-genuine thank you, without making any negative-leaning insights more of an issue than they are.

Hi Simon, thanks for your feedback. We’re always trying to balance guest expectations of our menu pricing, and will take your thoughts on board.

Of course, every hospo worker has dealt with their share of nightmare guests… It’s only fair that if they get to have a say, so do you!

Hi, Karen. We’ve followed up on your feedback—the waiter in your section on Friday advises that he did offer to replace your steak which was not cooked to your liking, but you declined. Feel free to send us a private message if you’d like to discuss further!  

2. Keep things personable

When people leave negative feedback in the heat of the moment, it can be helpful to remind them that there are people behind the handle they’re addressing. While it can be tempting to let your emotions drive your response (especially when the criticism feels personal), it’s important to uphold your brand’s voice, even when responding to negativity.

If valid criticism comes for a reason that you can explain, we recommend doing so! Every business is run by humans, and every human has off days. If a few people manage your social and web presence, attributing responses to a certain staff member, rather than just personifying the venue, can help to establish consideration for the people behind your venue’s operations too.

Hi, Cath, thank you for passing on this feedback. We have to admit that our kitchen team was understaffed on Friday night due to one chef’s illness keeping them at home. Your time waiting for your meal is certainly not our typical experience, so we hope you’ll give us a second chance! – Adam, venue manager.

3. Focus on the positives

While we won’t deny that one bad review can really cloud your day, there should be enough positive reviews and feedback to help establish some perspective!

Remember to not only engage with negative reviews and feedback, but also to thank those who leave positive feedback for choosing to spend with your business, and take some time to leave their thoughts.

Thanks for your kind feedback, Liz! We hope to welcome you in for your favourite pizza again soon. 

Responding to reviews online? Five stars from us!