You just got the dreaded negative online review. (Don’t beat yourself up about it. Even world class restaurants like The French Laundry get bad reviews.) Once you’ve finished crying into a pillow and yelling at your computer/John C. from Salt Lake City, you need to figure out how to deal with it…you know, like an adult.

It’s Not You. It’s Me.

Do you hear some of the same feedback on Yelp and elsewhere? If negative comments are the rule rather than the exception, then take a good look at what changes you need to make to your business.

Do Negative Reviews Matter?

Good reviews are undoubtedly good for business. A Harvard Business School study showed that a one-star increase in a restaurant’s Yelp rating leads roughly to a 9 percent revenue increase.

And negative reviews can send some customers packing. But, if handled well, they are also an opportunity to gain respect.

Know What’s Being Said Out There

All businesses need to know what’s being said about them. But if you are a food business without a brick and mortar building to call home, customers are likely to voice their opinions online. Use social media monitoring tools and set up a TalkWalker alert to get notified when your business is mentioned on a website.

How Not to Respond

There are many examples of business owners reacting inappropriately online. Their reactions are stamped on the internet forever, and in some cases, the businesses are known more for their reactions than for all the other good things they might have done.

Don’t remove the comment. (You won’t be able to in most cases anyways).

Don’t ignore the comment (unless the reviewer was obviously crazy).

Don’t take it personally.

Don’t lash out.

How to Respond

Address the review as quickly as possible.

Respond personally to the review. Give your name and be as personable as possible.

Empathize with the reviewer and address the issue. Offer to make it right with a refund, coupon, and/or policy change.

Make your response as brief as possible and drive the conversation off-line as soon as possible.


How do you address negative online reviews? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Julie Ciezadlo

About Julie Ciezadlo

Julie is a copywriter and social media manager at The Condiment Marketing Co. She is a Colorado native (a rare thing around here) and studied at the University of Colorado (Anthropology and English) and Cook Street Culinary School (Pastry).