Why Should Restaurant Owners Reply to Google Reviews?

Unlike most businesses where they have to fight tooth and nail just for a customer to leave a review, the restaurant industry is different.

Customers are more than happy to leave their thoughts on a restaurant after a meal – whether those thoughts are good or bad.

According to a study by Bright Local, recent trends in the restaurant industry show an increase in customer feedback, with positive reviews rising to 38% in 2024 from 34% in 2022, and negative reviews slightly up to 10% from 7%. Meanwhile, mixed reviews decreased from 33% to 25%. This data underscores the importance for restaurants to monitor and engage with online reviews to enhance their services.

Key Takeaways

  • Influence Customer Decisions: Replies to Google reviews can sway potential customers to choose your restaurant.
  • Improve Online Reputation: Actively engaging with reviews enhances your restaurant’s online image.
  • Increase Review Volume: Replying to reviews can encourage more customers to leave their own feedback.
  • Gain Valuable Insights: Reviews provide critical information on customer satisfaction and areas needing improvement.
  • Stand Out from Competitors: Active engagement with reviews distinguishes your restaurant from others.
  • Turn Negatives into Positives: Professional responses to negative reviews can improve your reputation and even turn the situation around.
  • Boost SEO: Regular interaction with reviews can enhance your search engine visibility.

Why Are Google Reviews Important For Your Business?

Google reviews are online reviews that are written about businesses on Google. They appear on Google Maps and in the search results when someone looks up a business. Google reviews can be positive or negative, and they often include comments about the business, as well as a rating out of five stars.

So why should restaurant owners reply to Google reviews?

Restaurant owners should reply to Google reviews because they can influence whether someone decides to visit their restaurants or not. By responding, they can improve the restaurant’s reputation by showing that they care about customers’ feedback and their experience.

An essential part of business is building and maintaining positive relationships with your customers. Good customer relations encourage repeat business and can lead to positive word-of-mouth marketing.

According to a survey, 88% of consumers are ‘highly’ or ‘fairly’ likely to use a business that responds to all of its online reviews.

Responding to online reviews is one way to show your customers that you value their feedback and are interested in hearing what they have to say – both the good and the bad.

It can also help build trust with potential customers. When they see that you’re responsive to feedback, they’ll be more likely to believe that you’re a business that cares about its customers and is committed to providing a good experience.

If you’re still not convinced that you should be replying to your Google reviews, then here are more benefits:

1. Increase Your Chances of Getting More Reviews

Another reason to reply to your Google reviews is that it can actually help you increase the number of reviews you get. According to a study, The response rates for small businesses that regularly respond to reviews can jump as high as 20.8%

This means that when customers see that you are actively replying to reviews, they will be more likely to leave a review themselves. 

 And the more reviews you have, the better your chances are of ranking higher in search results.

2. Improve Your Online Reputation

Your digital presence matters greatly, with Google reviews playing a significant role in shaping your online image. Bright Local reveals an evolving trend where Google stands as the premier platform for checking local business reviews

While there’s been a slight decrease, with 81% of consumers turning to Google in 2024 down from 87% in 2023, the importance of engaging with your reviews on Google to bolster your online reputation—and by extension, attract more customers—remains undeniable.

3. Get More Insights Into Your Business

Engaging with Google reviews provides critical insights into customer satisfaction and areas needing improvement, such as food quality or service. This direct feedback allows for targeted enhancements, thereby elevating the overall customer experience. 

Responding to reviews also showcases your commitment to valuing customer input, fostering loyalty and positively influencing potential customers.

4. Stand Out From Your Competitors

Actively responding to your Google reviews can significantly differentiate your business from competitors. Data indicates that the habit of consulting online reviews for local businesses remains strong among consumers, with 75% consistently reading them in 2024, maintaining a high engagement level seen in previous years (76% in 2023). 

By being among the proactive businesses that engage with customer feedback, you not only enhance your visibility but also build trust and credibility. This approach is key to attracting more customers and boosting your business, as a positive and responsive online presence resonates well with potential customers.

5. Turn A Negative Review Into A Positive One

If someone leaves a negative review, you have an opportunity to turn it into a positive one. According to Yelp, consumers are 33% more likely to upgrade their review if a business responds with a personalized message within a day”

How? By responding in a professional and helpful manner.

This shows the customer that you’re willing to listen to feedback and make improvements. It also shows potential customers that you’re a business that cares about its customers.

When done right, responding to a negative review can actually improve your reputation – and increase sales.

Now that we’ve gone over some of the benefits of replying to Google reviews, let’s take a look at some tips on how to do it.

6. Reviews Can Help Improve Your SEO

Engaging with customer reviews on Google not only showcases your business’s commitment to customer service but also boosts your relevance and trustworthiness in the search engine’s eyes. This increased engagement can enhance your visibility in search results, leading to greater exposure to potential customers. 

Essentially, by actively responding to reviews, you’re likely to improve your search ranking, drawing more traffic to your business and potentially increasing your customer base.

How to Reply to Positive Google Reviews

When replying to a positive review, your goal should be to thank the customer for their business and let them know that you’re grateful for their feedback. 

Here are a few tips on how to do this:

Keep it short and sweet.

Your reply doesn’t need to be long or detailed. In fact, shorter replies are generally better.

Thank the customer for their business.

Be sure to thank the customer for their business. This shows that you’re grateful for their support.

Personalize your response.

Personalized responses are always best. Mention the customer by name and, if possible, mention something specific about their experience.
For example, you could say something like, “Thank you for your business, John! We’re so glad you enjoyed your meal.”
This will make your response seem more genuine and sincere.

Invite them to come back.

Invite the customer to come back again in the future. This is a great way to build loyalty among your customer base.
For example, you could say something like, “We hope to see you again soon!”
This is just a general overview of how to respond to a positive review.

How to Reply to Negative Google Reviews

When you’re responding to a negative Google review, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Be polite and professional.

This is especially important if you’re responding to a negative review. Even if the customer is being rude, you should remain calm and courteous in your response.

Personalize your responses.

A generic “Thank you for your feedback!” message will come across as insincere. Instead, take the time to mention something specific from the review.
For example, you could say “Thank you for your feedback! We’re sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your meal. We would love to know what we could have done to make your experience better.”

Avoid getting into an argument with the customer.

If someone leaves a negative review, they may be upset or angry. It’s important to avoid getting into a back-and-forth argument with them, as this will only make the situation worse. If you need to, you can politely disagree with their opinion, but always do so in a professional and calm manner.
For example, you could say “We’re sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your meal. We pride ourselves on using fresh, local ingredients. Would you be willing to tell us what specifically didn’t meet your expectations?”

Offer a solution.

Finally, try to offer a solution if you’re responding to a negative review. For example, if someone didn’t enjoy their meal, you could offer to comp them for their next visit. This shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile to make things right, and it may convince the customer to give your restaurant another chance.
For example, you could say “We’re sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your meal. We would love to make it up to you. Please come back and see us again, and we’ll comp your meal.”
These are just a few tips to keep in mind when responding to Google reviews. By following these tips, you can show potential customers that you’re a business that cares about its customers – and increases your chances of getting more sales.

Wrapping Up

Google reviews are important because they can influence potential customers’ decisions to visit your restaurant. That’s why it’s so important to respond to all of your reviews, both the good and the bad.

When you’re responding to a review, always remain polite and professional. Personalize your responses, and avoid getting into an argument with the customer. If you’re responding to a negative review, try to offer a solution.

Following these tips, you’ll be able to effectively respond to all of your Google reviews. Thanks for reading!

If you don’t want to spend all your time responding to reviews, we suggest using a review management software like Local View. Our software will help you track, monitor, and reply to all of your online reviews – so you can focus on running your business. 

FAQs About Google Reviews

Responding to Google reviews, both positive and negative, shows potential customers that you value feedback and are committed to customer satisfaction. This engagement can enhance your restaurant’s reputation, demonstrate excellent customer service, and potentially improve your visibility on Google search results.
Yes, engaging with your reviewers can positively impact your restaurant’s ratings. Responding thoughtfully to negative reviews and showing a willingness to address concerns can often lead returning customers to update their review and rating. Furthermore, a proactive engagement strategy can encourage more positive reviews, as customers see that you value their input and are keen on improving their dining experience.
While it might seem like a daunting task, especially for establishments with a high volume of reviews, replying to as many reviews as possible is highly recommended. Each response is an opportunity to build a relationship with your customers, acknowledge their feedback, and show the public that you care about every diner’s experience. If time is limited, prioritize responding to negative reviews and highly positive feedback first.
Address negative reviews with empathy, professionalism, and a solution-oriented approach. Thank them for their feedback, apologize for any shortcoming in their experience, and propose a way to make it right or improve their experience in the future. Avoid being defensive; instead, use the criticism as valuable insight into areas where your restaurant can improve.