Engage Negative Customer Ratings and Reviews - With T.A.C.T.

Your Source for Restaurant Marketing & Retail Marketing Best Practices

Posted by Robin Johnston on Jun 26, 2019 8:34:00 AM
Robin Johnston

You work hard to keep your restaurant business alive and growing. Part of that effort includes monitoring and improving your restaurant’s online ratings and reviews. All of this energy and determination makes it so much more upsetting when you visit one of the popular online ratings websites to see a scathing, negative review.

Your first inclination will most likely be to fire back with a defensive message. But doing so could have long-lasting damaging effects on the way the public views you and your business. Instead of quickly defending yourself and risking the appearance of not caring about your customers, take a deep breath, relax, and respond with TACT.

“Bad reviews actually give you power… they give you an opportunity to use your brand voice to right your wrongs and to deliver stellar customer service – and to do it publicly, where potential customers can see it.”  - Tara Johnson, Journalist

wifi-analytics-1Responding to Negative Reviews with TACT

TACT is an acronym which stands for:

  • Thank them
  • Apologize
  • Continue the conversation offline
  • Treat them

First, thank the customer for bringing the issue to your attention. As Jay Baer says, “embrace that feedback as a gift.” Visualize not only the person complaining, but other customers who may have had the same experience but have not left a review online.

Next, you need to apologize, not necessarily for the way things are, but for the way things affected that guest’s experience at your location. Have the mindset of owning the issue that is being raised to you. Recognize that the issue is that person’s perception, and if you want to be seen as valuing your customers, then you should recognize that their perception has reality in their eyes. Apologize either for the condition, or for their experience as a result of the condition.

The next important piece of the TACT flow is to continue the conversation offline. Encourage the guest to dialog with you, but in a non-public forum. Make sure in your response, that it is apparent to the public that you wish to continue the conversation with the customer. This applies that you are going to do your best to make things right for the customer.

Finally, treat the guest to a return visit. You want the customer to come back through your doors and experience your restaurant in a different, more positive way. Perhaps it was simply an “off” day for your staff, or you may have been out of an important food item, or there was some sort of functional challenge at your location on that particular day. Whatever the issue, you want the guest to come back and experience things the way you expect them to be.  


It is important to recognize that you are providing an incentive to persuade them to come back to your restaurant, not to change their review.

As an example, let’s say you found a negative review from a guest whose order came to the table incorrectly. A great TACT response would be:

Hi John, thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. I want to personally apologize for the negative experience at our restaurant. Please view my private message, or call me at 555-1212 at your earliest convenience. I’d like to make sure we not only make things right, but that we exceed your expectations. Warm regards, Allen Graves, Restaurant Manager.

Even the best restaurants will eventually run into a negative online review. It’s simply the nature of the internet. Just remember that it is how you respond to the negative reviews that can either make you look like you genuinely care about your customers, or that you wouldn’t care if they ever came back.

Online customer ratings and reviews are extremely powerful, and they can literally make or break your restaurant business. Responding to negative reviews with TACT could be the difference between the success or the failure of your business.

To learn more about the effects of positive and negative online reviews, download our free ebook by clicking the banner below.

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