A bad online review can be soul-crushing to a passionate business owner. We know. We understand. We’ve tracked online reviews for our thousands of customers from sites like Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, among many others – and we’ve sometimes come across reviews that really do sound unfair, out-of-line, and below-the-belt.
On the other hand, we can’t escape the fact that there are just a lot of freaks on the Internet. For business owners – and believe us, not even the biggest, best brands in the world are immune to bad reviews – the important thing to remember is not to get too carried away, not to get too passionate. Bad reviews happen. What you cannot let happen is writing over-emotional, angry responses to these reviews.
Not too long ago, we posted something about what NOT to do when carrying out your online review management efforts. Well, we recently found more non-exemplary cases, so today we’re adding to the list with the hope that you won’t make the same mistakes that these business owners did.
Don’t attack the Yelper in his house
The female owner of the now-closed Ocean Avenue Books in San Francisco got a two-star rating from Yelper Sean. This was apparently enough to push over the edge. After several rounds of cyber-attacks, she went to Sean’s house, forced her way in, and got into a wrestling match with her reviewer.
“This is the craziest thing that’s ever happened to me,” Sean said later. “If I had a gun she’d probably be dead right now.”
Needless to say, it’s a case of bad review management (and anger management) gone even worse. Ocean Avenue Books is now closed. The owner was cited for battery and taken to a center for mental health intervention.
Avoid calling out your customers as “Internet tough guys”
Yelper Brandon had a horrible experience at the Radiator Doctor, an auto repair shop in California. So he wrote a bad review and gave the business a one-star rating on Yelp. Dale, the owner of the Radiator Doctor, was not happy. In an impassioned response, Dale called Brandon a “LITTLE BOY,” challenged the latter’s manhood, and called him out for hiding behind a computer and “playing the role of INTERNET TOUGH GUY.”
Oh boy. We don’t know about you, but if we see this on a Yelp business page, we’re not going to be likely to visit the place. Management response on various review sites speaks volumes of the people behind the business, and in this case, it sounds very loud.
Did we mention that the Radiator Doctor is also now closed?
Don’t be passive-aggressive
If you check out Noble Pie Parlor’s Yelp page, you’ll notice that it actually seems to be doing well. So far, the restaurant has received 136 reviews, an aggregated rating of 4 out of 5 stars, and review highlights that say the place offers “a damn tasty slice in the heart of downtown (Reno).”
We did catch something that would be a no-no in online review management: passive-aggressive behavior, specifically by Noble Pie Parlor owner Trevor. “We’re a bit confused about what you mean by fine print,’” he wrote as a response to a one-star review. “All in all it seems like you are real unhappy person with poor time management skills that is on the computer slandering small businesses on Yelp instead of looking at the business info tab to see that our hours are also clearly stated for each day of operation.”
Here’s another response that Trevor wrote, addressed to a Yelper who’d called out the hipster toppings. “I sent you a private message to converse with you on this subject, and you responded publicly so I will too. When I eat a restaurant there may be things on the menu I’m not particularly fond of. So if I don’t like them I don’t order them. No one is forcing you to buy something you don’t like. If you want a slice of pepperoni then get a slice of pepperoni! However, unlike you, I wouldn’t get online and slam a local business for having an item on the menu I didn’t like, call them ‘hipster toppings’ and pass judgment on the people eating in the restaurant then blame it on the restaurant.”
Actually, the rest of Trevor’s responses are not that bad, at least compared to other business owners. Also, we’re still fascinated by ‘hipster toppings.’ Obvi.
Don’t stop bottomless Mimosas
Some business owners are so passionate that their only response to bad review is intended to drive customers away. At least that’s the case with Hill Street Grill in Reno, where owner Nigel threatened to stop his signature bottomless Mimosas in order to ensure that Mimosa-loving Yelper Erika never came back. Ouch. Sorry, Nigel, but we’re not raising a toast to you.
Guess what: Hill Street Grill is also now closed. We guess there’s just something that links a business closing down to having its reputation damaged, while business was open, by bad online review management.