Do’s and Don’ts When it comes to Responding to Customer Reviews- By Chrissy Symeonakis of Creative Little Soul

Author: Chrissy Symeonakis of Creative Little Soul 

Chrissy is a veteran of the hospitality and marketing industry in Australia, with over 16 years’ experience in various roles and facets. She is Managing Director of Creative Little Soul, a digital marketing agency that works with and supports predominantly the Hospitality and Entertainment Industry.  She loves long walks on the beach, a good Negroni and data. 

Do’s and Don’ts When it comes to Responding to Customer Reviews

Customer reviews –often the bane of our very existence yet an integral part of the restaurant and customer journey and experience. Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, your potential customers are judging you before they’ve even walked thru the door.  They’ve formed an opinion on your cuisine, the venue, vibe and your signature dishes and service based on what others who’ve dined have said about you. The frightening thing too, is you’ll never really know how many people read things, or the actual number of customers you’ll have lost or never had the chance to serve.

Never has there been a more critical time than now, to be all over how you’re being perceived and portrayed online; particularly given how much of our lives (and the customers) are shared in the digital world and realm.

Gone are the days where not responding to reviews isn’t an option, or you’re too busy to do so. If you’ve not a 100% response rate as a KPI in your marketing and communication strategy, you might want to implement stat. So, as we know there are always two sides to a story and responding provides you to shed some light on the actual going on’s of an experience. However, before you leap towards the keyboard to respond, here are a few do’s and don’ts that will not only save your sanity but also ensure you’re not doing your business any damage
Do :

- Be accountable when things go wrong (because they can and do) and apologise if something has gone south. We’re all human, and things happen. Owning them though will not only earn you respect from your customer but others out there in the industry.

- Take the time to investigate all comments and reviews, and gather all the details so you know where you stand, what to do and also have in place a strategy that is consistent for handling both good and bad reviews.

- Share both the good and bad with your staff and team, and when team members go above and beyond celebrate the wins with them. Recognition of team members going above and beyond will motivate and inspire others, and show you care about your staff.
- Seek out feedback. If someone leaves you a low score or a one star review without any particular information, find out what it was they didn’t like. Knowing how you can fix something or if you’ve an issue somewhere is important and should be a priority of any business owner.
- Thank people for visiting even if they left you a glowing review and comments. Engage with your customers and forge a great personable relationship and rapport.
- Look at and analyse customer reviews, data and feedback and don’t be afraid to ask someone for help if you don’t understand it.


- Reply at the end of service when you’re likely tired, agitated and area emotionally charged. Wait until the following day, ensure you’ve spoken to your team members and staff to ensure you’ve all the information you need at hand to then reply accordingly.

- Contact customers on other accounts other than the one they reached out to you via. Sure you’ll likely want to see who these customers are and what they do, however messaging them via Linkedin or Facebook when they’re reviewed you via Dimmi or TripAdvisor is not cool. Not only does it send of a super creepy vibe, but it’s un professional and out of line.

- Be abusive, confrontational or rude. Sure you might not agree with something, however remember what your Mother taught you as a kid “If you’ve nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all”. Don’t use foul or offensive language to get your point across. If you’re stuck on how to say something or the best way to articulate your point, ignore or have someone help you or head for the Thesaurus.

-  Start an online war of words in a public space and forum for others to see or participate in. Push all communication and correspondence offline, where you can discuss and handle each case individually

- Be a sore loser and bad sport. Sometimes things happen beyond your control, however how you react and then remedy are of real importance here. Accept and move on and remember, being in business means you’re opening yourself up to criticism of others.

There’s plenty about this topic I could discuss all day long, but at the end of the day remember this and you’ll be all set. The customer isn’t always right but nor are we. We are in the business of providing a hospitality offering and experience, and without each other we’re not in business right. It’s about coming up with something that works for you and working with people who can assist, aid and support you to get the job and task done.

Look at allocating someone in your business to manage and take the stress away from you, if that helps or look at instilling a professional so they can free up your time and mind to focus on the things you love to do.

If running a restaurant was easy, everyone would do it – but we know it’s not and not everyone can.

Remember – pick your battles, compose yourself professionally and when the time comes do speak up and call people out on stuff but in a way others will respect you for it.

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