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How to Respond to Online Reviews - Nella Online

How to Respond to Online Reviews

Reviews are critical when it comes to the reputation of your business. In fact, online reviews influence the purchase decisions for 93% of consumers. Most people decide whether or not they will eat at your location based off reviews. Responding to positive reviews shows customers that you are appreciative of them and replying to negative reviews reveals that you want to learn from the customers poor experience and hope to make it better. Below are key ways to respond to customer reviews online.

The Good

Positive feedback from customers feels so reassuring, now you can take it and move on, right? Wrong. Showing acknowledgement to positive reviews online will go a long way for your company and with your customers. Engaging with these customers reminds them that you are appreciative of their satisfaction and will also build a positive rapport for your brand. Such responses will help build a lasting relationship with consumers, and allow for them to constantly come back.


1. Common courtesy

Growing up what were you taught as a kid? When someone compliments you or does something nice for you, you say? Thank you. Essentially, this is what is happening here. Customers are sharing their experience and gloating about you to the online world regarding their great experience. When someone acknowledges or praises you for something, you should be grateful.

2. People are watching

Other viewers are looking at your responses. This means that not only are you connecting with the one customer you’ve replied to, but you’re connecting with an entire audience. This is a chance to show the type of company you are along with some subtle marketing.

3. Creating a buzz

Engaging with your audience can create positive online conversations about your location. This can help generate a ‘buzz’ for your restaurant with your online community. (i.e. preferred dishes, stories that occur, recommendations etc.)


1. Thank the customer

Reveal your acknowledgement to the customer by saying thank you. This will show that you were appreciative of their positive review.

2. Implement business name and minor marketing

After you thank the customer for their review. Make sure you reiterate your business name in the response followed by a subtle marketing reply. This is a chance to re-emphasis to your audience who your business is along with a small marketing remark for them.

3. Remind customer that you'd love to see them return

Kindly remind or ask the customer that you’d love to see them again. You can promote another dish you would like them to try next time in your response that you think they’d enjoy.

Here is an example of a perfect response to a positive online review:

Happy customer:

Love food top patio, love the music, love the menu. Been going here since it opened, tuna app is amazing and the cocktails

Restaurant Response:

Hi (Happy Customer),

Thank you for this wonderful 5-star review.

We love that you love our FCP Cactus location, and we’re absolutely thrilled that you’ve been coming in since we first opened. Our Tuna Stack is certainly a guest and staff favourite here at Cactus, and we’ve recently added a new dessert item, our Apple Galette, that we hope you’ll come by to try! Who knows, it may even become your new favourite menu item here!

Sincerely, Jenna Manager, Cactus – FCP

Review link

The Bad

Look no one is perfect, and as mentioned in my last article Online Marketing Strategies for a New Restaurant/Bar. It’s inevitable to please every single person in this world. Especially in the food industry, people are subjective to their own preferences. What’s delicious to one person, can leave a bitter taste to another.’ Don’t panic, nor get frustrated, assess the situation and try to understand what the customer was upset about. 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews even if you do not agree with the customer's review, respond to them in a professional way. You don’t have to bow down and give them everything just because they complained. There always will be an outlier and some people tend to complain to receive a free comp out of something. Rather invite them back again and provide them with top notch food and customer service. (Throw in a free dessert or something to sweeten them up… yes, pun intended) Along with negative reviews, there are the subpar reviews. Someone wasn’t ecstatic about their experience at your location nor were the dissatisfied. Like negative reviews, these types of reviews can be responded to accordingly and have the potential to turn into a positive review with minor tweaks.


1. Shows you are taking responsibility

Responding to a negative review reveals that you are taking responsibility and want to make things right. Despite there being indifferences, you can still make things right with the disgruntled customer.

2. People are watching

As mentioned earlier, other viewers are looking at your responses. The way you respond to the negative review will show your audience how you as a business carry yourself. Take ownership of trying to make things right, this will go a long way for potential customers and your business.

3. Positives in handling feedback and criticism

Replying to a negative review shows the customer and your audience that you are open with making things right. Taking feedback and constructive criticism is something your business accepts to better yourselves in the long run. We all make mistakes, learning from them is what makes us and your business grow.


1. Apologize in your response, even if you shouldn't have to

Apologize and sympathize with the negative review. Doing so will reveal your acknowledgement for the customer and their poor experience. By apologizing and sympathizing, this will let the customer know you understand their frustration.

2. Use the response for some more marketing

In your response, incorporate some more marketing tactics. Assure your customer what your company prides itself on and how you’re sympathetic about missing that detail for them.

3. Keep it short and try contacting the customer offline

Keep your response short and sweet. No one wants to read a whole story on why you are apologetic on something. Rather provide a name, contact number and email for you to speak to the customer directly offline. This will allow for you to contact the customer directly and get further details on why they provided the negative review. From here, you can take the next steps on making things right.

Here is an example of a great response to a negative online review:

Unhappy Customer:

Not worth the one star. The rudest servers. I’m glad I walked out. They don’t deserve my money. It happens when one gets popular for no rhyme or reason and the concept and value of customers and service is taken for granted!

Restaurant Response:

Hi (unhappy customer).

My name is Sanjay Veru and I am the General Manager at Earls King Street. Thank you for taking the time to review our restaurant. I am truly sorry to hear the comments regarding my server and the way you were treated. We take pride in our service, hospitality, and food quality and by no means take the value of our customers for granted. I would love to discuss this feedback further so that I can get an understanding of who was involved so that the feedback is specific and delivered. I also would like to take the time to invite you back as my guest so that you can experience a true hospitable Earls experience. If you have the time and this is something that interest you please email me at [email] and I will make the arrangements to connect with you over the phone.

Thank you again and hope to hear from you soon.

Review link

Your businesses rapport will go a long way and there always is an online audience out there watching you. Try to learn from the positive and negative reviews and implement them everyday for growth. Be professional, stay humble and do what you can to please your customers.

Talk to one of Nella’s experienced professionals today about opening your own restaurant. We can help at every stage of planning, design, and financing to get you on the path to success.

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