How To Respond To Reviews with Tom James

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Everyone knows reviews are important. But what do you do once you get them? 

Tom James is the founder of Overall reviews, and on this edition of “Give An Ovation” he gave some amazing, specific pointers on how you can up your review-response game. You should watch the whole thing, but here’s a few summaries if his points: 

1. Appreciate The Customer

Just like table touches or any other interaction on-premise, the goal of responding to reviews is to build a relationship with the customer. Hospitality is about how people feel, and how you respond to a review will either positively or negatively affect the customer’s perception of you and your restaurant. 

2. Other People Read Reviews

Remember that when you respond to a review, you’re not just talking to the individual who left it, but the hundreds or thousands of other people that are reading along. 

3. Say Thank You To Everyone

You should respond to every single review. If someone was leaving your restaurant and gave you some feedback, you wouldn’t ignore them, right? 

Positive reviews are pretty easy to handle. Say thanks, and give a specific response that shows you actually read it. For example, if the reviewer mentions they had a great experience on their anniversary, throw “Happy Anniversary” in there somewhere. 

Negative reviews, on the other hand, can be hard to handle. When people criticize your livelihood, it can be difficult to not get defensive and react poorly. But this will only make the problem worse. Defensive responses will further aggravate the customer and are red flags to others reading the interaction. It’s okay to correct misinformation in the original post, but always be kind and polite. It’s common sense, but harder said than done. 

4. Promote Your Brand

Negative reviews can win back customers, but also provide a chance to promote what you’re doing great. If a reviewer says they think you use canned tomato sauce in your spaghetti, you can respond with something like “Actually, we use fresh, organic tomatoes from the farm up the road! Come try it!”. While too much promotion is annoying, there are some cases where it’s perfect.

5. Improve Your Customer Experience

As consumers return to restaurants and retailers after the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re going to have higher expectations than before, so think about how you can step it up. Plus, you won’t have to bite your tongue (fingers?) on as many negative reviews as if there are fewer in the first place.


Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the whole podcast, as well as other interviews with restaurant/business gurus by checking out “Give an Ovation” on YouTube,, or your favorite place to listen to podcasts. 

And don’t forget to visit to see if they can help you with your online reputation.

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