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Restaurants Must Respond to Online Reviews

by | Feb 13, 2023 | Awards and Recognition, blog, Business, Industry News, Marketing, National Restaurant Consultants | 0 comments

The bad news first: studies via Trustpilot show that positive online reviews are down, and negative online reviews are up. “New data from Trustpilot finds that negative online reviews for U.S. businesses have jumped by 3% since April, with restaurants and bars experiencing the biggest upticks in negative reviews…and found a 4% decline in positive reviews since April 2022, equating to nearly 40,000 fewer positive reviews,” reads a Nation’s Restaurant News article.

But here is the good news: positive reviews still outweigh the negative ones. In the same article, Nation’s Restaurant News writes, “Despite this trend, and the 3% increase in negative reviews, the number of positive reviews across industries continue to outweigh negative reviews.”

In the restaurant and hospitality industry, criticism and negative feedback are inevitable. Tastes in food, aesthetics, and even customer service can be subjective. And while, of course, sometimes a negative review is a warranted, even helpful tool to the consumer, Trustpilot reveals that “most negative reviews were ignited by order inaccuracies.” Negative reviews are often attached to very fixable problems.

This doesn’t make them small issues by any means. Unresolved issues with simple solutions demonstrate an attitude problem, not an operation one, and though it can be a lot to weed through, responding to negative feedback is a necessary step in the two-way communications process. “Research from Northwestern University finds that 94% of consumers say they have avoided a business because of a negative online review. Further, 22% of consumers say they will not dine at a restaurant after reading just one negative review and, on average, a single negative review could cost a business up to 30 customers,” cites Nation’s Restaurant News. Resolving negative feedback isn’t just about the one guest with the issue—it’s about every single potential customer who might read that review and be impacted.

Social media—whether Google reviews, Yelp reviews, Instagram comments, or Facebook pages—is the name of the game now. An online presence is crucial. Restaurants should be taking a proactive approach, developing interesting and engaging accounts. But the work doesn’t stop there. Once your business is in the spotlight and accessible, you must remain active to communicate with customers and maintain your reputation.  

“It is difficult to not take the negative reviews personally,” notes Richard Weil, principal and owner of National Restaurant Consultants. “However, addressing all reviews, both positive and negative, will provide a great end result, showing all current and future guests that you are listening and top of your business. So don’t just read them, address them!”

Our restaurant consultants have decades’ of experience in the industry and reputation management. Whether you’re just beginning your online marketing or have wandered into some trouble with negative reviews, contact our consultants to get operations—and the reputation attached to them—back on track.