Whether it’s Yelp, Facebook, Google, or TripAdvisor, 91% of consumers today trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and despite your best efforts sometimes bad reviews happen. However, there are plenty of things you can do to address customer feedback and maintain your online reputation.

1

Wait, But Not Too Long

Whatever you do, do not reply in-the-moment. Take time to cool down and make sure that you have the facts straight, so you are able to respond instead of reacting. Responding within 1 - 2 days will show the reviewer and any other potential customers that you’re a business owner who cares.
2

Keep It Civil

It's important to take the high road when responding to negative reviews, keep your response polite and focused on the problem addressed.
3

Be Compassionate

While the customer isn't always right, acknowledging and empathizing with each complaint is essential. Start by thanking the customer for taking the time to bring the situation to your attention and apologize for the less than perfect experience. An apology coupled with a “thank you” can go a long way in making a customer feel heard and valued.
 
Karen, thank you for taking the time to bring this to our attention, we apologize that the substitution for the root vegetables was mishandled.
4

Provide An Explanation

Avoid making excuses, but do offer an explanation when possible. Be clear as to why the error occurred.
 
Unfortunately, the server did not follow our procedures regarding the modification and tried to handle your request herself.
5

Stand Up For Your Team

Even if an employee was 100% at fault, personal attacks on a member of your team are usually unwarranted. By politely standing up for your staff you can use the review to help build company morale.
 
We understand that you are frustrated, but ask that you refrain from name-calling or cursing. Our server, while very experienced, is also human, and made an error in judgment during service. We have reviewed your feedback with him to avoid this situation from repeating.
6

Take It Offline

Nothing will make a mountain out of a molehill faster than fighting online. In your response provide a personal email address and make an effort to contact the person offline to see how you can make it right.
7

Offer To Right Your Wrongs

Depending on the situation, offer to refund the items in question or invite them back to the restaurant. This can often resolve an issue and give your team a second chance. If the guest does choose to dine with you again, make sure to stop by the table to personally check that everything is going well. If you are not there, make sure to add guest notes and appoint a senior member of your team to stop by.

Ending on a positive note; 89% of consumers read responses to reviews online. Properly handling a negative review can increase your online reputation. There is also a 33% chance that after replying to a customer he will update or even remove or his online review.