What to Do When You Get a Negative Review

Receiving a negative review can be frustrating, disappointing, and sometimes upsetting. While it may be tempting to respond in kind, here are a few things to keep in mind when receiving and responding to negative reviews.

Everyone Gets Negative Reviews

You are not alone. 61% of restaurants have at least one negative review.

Remember: it’s impossible to please everyone. And while positive reviews are great, one or two negative reviews won’t dramatically change your business. Next time you receive a negative review, step back from your computer and take a breath. By not responding right away, you are giving yourself time to think through a more productive response. And a good response may sometimes be enough to win another chance with an unhappy reviewer.

Stay Calm

Grab a cup of tea, do some yoga or just go about your day — whatever you need to do so that this review does not keep you from what’s important — your guests. Separating yourself from the review for a few hours will help you continue to serve your customers to the best of your abilities while you decide your next steps. Whether you decide to act on the review or not, staying calm will allow you and your company to move forward.

Keep It In Perspective

It is hard to get a negative review after throwing your heart and soul into your restaurant. Keep in mind that it’s only one review. On average, diners read between one and five reviews of a given restaurant before making their decision. And 53% of respondents said they would book a restaurant even if it has one or two negative reviews.

Your customer may have started their experience in a negative mood. This may be for reasons out of your control, like a long flight or a late taxi. While you may not be able to control these outside occurrences, you can control what goes on in your restaurant — your hospitality.

Consider It An Opportunity

Your customer is sharing their experience and telling you where it fell short. Take a moment to consider the validity of the comment. Have you heard this more than once? If so, consider taking the opportunity to address the problem, like a poor dish or an unwelcoming experience, with the appropriate members of your staff.

“That’s where Tripadvisor comes in handy. Once something is complained about three times, we know we need to take immediate action. Take our side dishes for example — once three people complained, I started working with my kitchen staff to restructure the menu. [This was a] challenge we didn’t know we had until Tripadvisor. In our heads, it’s all fine.” Abe Dau

Owner, El Arsenal


It shows that you care about your diners' experiences and are doing your best to make it amazing. Also, your diners expect a response! In a recent survey of Tripadvisor users, 88% of respondents say that Management Responses influence where they choose to eat. And 65% say that Management Responses improve their perception of the restaurant after reading a negative review. While it is tempting to ignore a negative review, your response can make all the difference.

Tips for responding to negative reviews:

  • Always be courteous and thoughtful. No matter how upsetting or frustrating the review, a thoughtful response can only help your restaurant’s reputation. Taking the high road shows customers that you are politely considering the comments in the review rather than becoming defensive.
  • Thank the reviewer. A simple thank you goes a long way. Try to be genuine with it even if you are not happy to be writing it.
  • Acknowledge the comment or concern. This shows that you are personally reading their review. It will also give your response a more personal touch — something that is always appreciated.
  • Invite the reviewer back. Inviting the reviewer back and asking for another chance shows that you appreciate their business and, in the case of a negative review, that the experience they had can be improved.

For more tips on best response practices click here.

Take control of your reviews with Review Hub

Posted by:

Bailey Ottley

Bailey Ottley

Restaurant Marketing Enthusiast

Read the bio.

See examples and explanations of real life responses

Last Updated: 21 June 2019
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