Someone gave my business a bad online review....What to do?
Nov 3, 2010 at 1:45 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 22

Jajo

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Two days ago, someone had a negative experience at my restaurant.  The same night, that person posted her experience on Urbanspoon and Insiderpages as well as sending an e-mail that is posted on our website.  Each entry was the same.  She complained of bad service and a bad meal.  By the way, I do check review sites from time to time to see what people are saying when they are outside of the restaurant. 
 
The customer told the server that she did not enjoy the meal; the server then told my brother (who was in charge).  My brother did nothing about it such as taking it off the bill, which is never really a problem. 
 
Well, something that would have cost us almost nothing to take off a bill, has ended up costing us with these negative online reviews.  
 
I have made a rough e-mail to send back to her apologizing for the bad experience, and a gift card on the house.  But, she has stated in the review that she "will never be back."  The damage has seemed to be already done, so not sure what I should do from here.  I would love for her to retract her review, but realize that's unlikely.  At this point, I feel like just ignoring would be most beneficial.
 
Some more info for you....  The server heard that same person say "We should have went to (a chain restaurant), at least they have pictures in their menus."  The same server also spoke with another one of his tables and they stated that they seemed to have a problem from the time they walked in.  
 
Well, any ideas on what I should do?  I always like to remain professional, so replying to her through the review sites is something I don't think is reasonable.  I'm not about to get into a pissing contest with someone, it could only make us look worse.  
 
Nov 3, 2010 at 1:57 PM Post #2 of 22

jilgiljongiljing

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Actually to me, replying on the review sites apologizing might not be a bad idea. Leaving negative reviews hanging isn't exactly great either. The worst thing to do is to counter the negative review or try and give justification or say "we are the best" "we are rated so well" etc etc. That absolutely gets on peoples nerves and they will get an even poorer impression.
 
Only when you have complete proof or justification should you reply with anything other than an apology for a negative review on a service.
 
I say, reply by email, reply to review, just make it short, to the point and an honest apology and that you will take action in some manner or ensure such things will not happen again. Don't ask for it to be taken down, thats upto the reviewer to decide based on the response you send.
 
My 2 cents...
 
Nov 3, 2010 at 2:29 PM Post #3 of 22

Uncle Erik

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Most people cool off after a day or two. Give it a few days then contact her (if possible) to offer her either a refund or a free meal. If she accepts, make her happy and ask her about the review. The ideal situation would be if she removed the review or added another describing how you fixed the situation.

If you can't get in touch with her, I'd reply to the reviews. Don't blame the victim. Just say that everyone slips up now and then, you understand that she is upset, and that she will get a refund or a free meal if she comes back in. Also say that the issue was discussed with staff and management to ensure that this sort of thing never happens again.

That should make you look good. People usually forgive mistakes if you make an effort to fix them.
 
Nov 3, 2010 at 5:15 PM Post #4 of 22

FallenAngel

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I'm really not sure what kind of places should have "pictures on the menu"...
 
Anyway, I'm on Yelp all the time and try to review most places I attend.  Sometimes the reviews are not great (always well deserved) and unless I have a VERY bad experience, but I'd never go overboard with something crazy like writing reviews on 2 sites and emailing the place... that sounds extremely obnoxious!
 
Nov 3, 2010 at 6:00 PM Post #5 of 22

francisdemarte

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Don't forget that there are just terrible reviewers also, and even the best places have a couple of bad reviews. Being a long time Yelp user I learn to filter out people who are clearly being vindictive or just obnoxious.
 
Sound this was a case of someone being in a bitchy mood even before they walked in. 
 
 
Nov 3, 2010 at 6:14 PM Post #6 of 22

MomijiTMO

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Hey it's one unhappy customer who sounds like they might have a few screws lose in their head. I mean who the hell bothers to write a review unless it's a disaster? I'd just carry on with life and look at all your happy customers. I wouldn't apologise or communicate with them as they sound like the type that will demand free meals etc.
 
Nov 4, 2010 at 12:36 AM Post #7 of 22

Omega

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You should send her a thank you note.  Getting honest feedback is hard.  If she was simply mad and the negative feedback is unfair, well, too bad, there are jerks in the world, and the internet gives them a pulpit.  But why would she bother to write reviews if she didn't care?  Clearly something initiated the bad review.  If you want to do right, figure it out and fix it.
 
Nov 5, 2010 at 12:30 PM Post #8 of 22

Jajo

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Hey all,
 
Thanks to all of you who have responded to my thread.  Your ideas and comments have been much appreciated!  
 
The day after I made this thread, someone responded to the negative review with a very positive review, pretty much going against what the bad review said and even calling her out.  The person was said things like, "The last review on here really surprised me. Seems to me that some people just like to hear themselves complain" and "We enjoy all the employees there and the food is delicious."
 
That review made my day, and I plan on sending her a gift card.

I will reply to the negative reviewer with an e-mail, saying sorry, and also offering her a gift card.  I'll make it valid only for take-out, though, since she hates our waiting service.  
 
Thanks again!
 
Nov 5, 2010 at 2:25 PM Post #9 of 22

ls20

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have you tried to figure out why specifically the meal was bad, and what have you done to correct it?
 
coming from a patron, i dont like it when restaurateurs try to counter, or pull negative reviews from the web.  seems petty
 
people are going to give their opinion of a joint.  good or bad.  let the readers decide. 
 
Nov 6, 2010 at 12:50 AM Post #11 of 22

ericj

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There's just no pleasing some people.
 
On the other hand, sometimes a restaurant really fails.
 
I'm a guy who doesn't complain much. I'm a guy who finds a rock in his burrito and doesn't go talk to the manager about it. Because it's not like i chipped a tooth or anything and it's a tiny bean-shaped black rock in my black beans and i might have missed it too.
 
But this one time.
 
We have a pretty good sized population of polynesians, tongans, and other pacific islanders here. Every once in a while someone opens a restaurant. Sometimes they are pretty good.
 
Some years back, some polynesians opened a Hawaii-themed burger joint. Sort of an out of the way spot. One day, I'm out near there with my friend because he had to visit a welding supply store or something and he suggests it - says he'd been there with the wife on date night (always trying a new place) and it was pretty good, so we went.
 
And it was pretty good. Nice juicy burger, good sauces, everything fresh, fast service, slow enough day that a giant poly cook came out to chat with people.
 
Two months later we find ourselves in that same neck of the woods. We figure, why not.
 
Ordered the same thing. Asked 'em to skip the fried shrimp that come on the side as I'm allergic to shellfish.
 
Waited a relatively long time. Received dry burger that had the flavor and texture of a patty that has been sitting on a cold griddle for half a day. Bun was dry and flaky as though it were freezer-burnt. Shrimp side-dish was present despite request, and my shrimp-eating friend was surprised to find that the shrimp hadn't even been peeled - and his burger was just as bad as mine.
 
Waitress asked how it was. We were honest. She was shocked. Called over shift manager. We told 'em we'd been there before and it was much better, and wondered out loud if someone else was cooking or something.
 
They denied everything. Seemed surprised that it was unusual to serve shrimp still completely clad in their shells. Insisted buns were delivered fresh - etc.
 
And ultimately comped our meals.
 
We didn't argue. And we never went back.
 
But, well, the last time i was at an IHOP, i had to sit and listen to the folks in the next booth discuss how terrible all of their food was until they'd eaten it all and then demand to be comped. And then have the manager explain to them that this was the third time they'd eaten a whole meal they found unacceptable, and sort of invited them to never, ever come back.
 
Nov 6, 2010 at 12:20 PM Post #13 of 22

vixr

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I use urbanspoon alot and I would take 3 bad reveiws in a row seriously, but a single bad amongst the good reveiws would not stop me from trying a place...let it go.
 
Nov 6, 2010 at 12:34 PM Post #14 of 22

Eee Pee

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Pictures on the menu?  Ha ha!  Like at the Waffle House or Denny's or T.J.'s or McDonald's or Burger King?
 
That's funny.  That customer is a sad person.  I wouldn't worry about it, or do anything, not even an email.
 
Nov 6, 2010 at 1:07 PM Post #15 of 22

Uncle Erik

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Pictures on the menu?  Ha ha!  Like at the Waffle House or Denny's or T.J.'s or McDonald's or Burger King?


 


That's funny.  That customer is a sad person.  I wouldn't worry about it, or do anything, not even an email.



We will not speak badly of Waffle House in this forum.

I could really go for some grits and a waffle this morning.
 

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