By on

brand reputation

For restaurant owners, online review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor can be a blessing or a curse.

They’re a blessing when the business consistently receives positive reviews and high ratings. In such cases, the public feedback from happy customers makes the business much more attractive to other potential customers.

But with negative reviews and low ratings? It’s like having a sign on the door that tells diners to stay away. (According to research, one in 3 restaurant-goers wouldn’t even dine below 4 stars.)

Epic Response to Negative Customer Feedback? 

It’s not surprising to know that, in the name of online review management, some business owners, chefs, and restaurant industry execs are prone to dishing out comebacks to unfavorable reviews and negative customer feedback.

To be fair, we’ve seen some standout businesses that are pretty savvy at responding. One of our favorites, for example, is the food truck owner who wrote a brilliant “Sorry” song for a Yelper.

But there are also those whose responses to reviews cause damage to – instead of protect – their brand reputation. For example: these guys. (Surely, you have heard of Amy’s Baking Company?)

Recently we came across a restaurant owner in the UK whose response to a TripAdvisor review went viral on the Internet and social media. Steve Bothwell, the man behind Café 52 in Aberdeen, penned this withering reply to a one-star reviewer, whom Bothwell called out for having a “twisted sense of reality” and sarcastically praised for “remarkably creative piece of writing.”

Let’s take a look at the screenshots for the whole story. Then you decide if the business owner’s response is an epic win or an epic fail.

customer feedback

TripAdvisor user injured2015 was complaining about one of their party being “cut by broken glass that a waitress dropped.” “At no time did the manager apologize for this incident,” the reviewer continued. “We are in the business of training managers and customer service and what we experienced would not have made the grade.”

review management

So: what do you think of Bothwell’s reply? (By the way, if there’s one thing we recommend changing or editing out of his review response, it’s the “your colleague suffered a ½ inch scratch from a broken glass that hit the floor” part. We have a feeling that might not be a helpful admission should the customer decide to file a lawsuit.)

Majority of Café 52’s online reviews and customer feedback are positive, with the restaurant ranking in the top 40s out of more than 500 places to eat in Aberdeen. It has a cumulative 4-star rating, with 167 “Excellent” and 103 “Very Good” reviews on TripAdvisor (as of this writing).

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

Discussion

  1. Rod S Lee

    Oh man, well that’s one way to handle a bad review. I suppose if all that’s true then it’s better to set the record straight. I don’t know if I would have mentioned the wine and the butt rubbing though. Just me.

    Reply
    • Brian Siu

      I think it was spot on. It’d be one thing if they went off on lots of people for their negative reviews but this sounds like the customer was not only being a nuisance but then tried to speak negatively about them online. The restaurant gets good reviews otherwise.

      Reply
  2. Isidora

    I would go to this restaurant just to say “Well done!” to the owner 🙂 His response is absolutely brilliant!

    I’m in a business where reviews are everything and take much pride in those I received. But, every now and then and in every business there are some difficult people you have to deal with. I learned to take negative reviews with a grain of salt – the customer is not always right, and not everything is black and white. It matters very much how you respond to a negative review – class is always a better choice than argumentative rant.

    Reply
  3. WanderingMommy

    I like that guy ! Being in restaurants and listening to issues some people have I would love to make few sarcastic comment to the complainers. Few times I actually had to bite my tongue!
    Anyway, good response and clear facts. Ok maybe bit too sarcastic for some people but it did hit the nail on the head.

    Reply
  4. Creative Marketer

    This is certainly of the best replies to reviews that I have read in a while. Clearly the owner made everything he could, just so the injured man can enjoy the rest of the evening. And about the dropped glass, well as the owner said, such thing will continue happening as long as the waiters are not replaced by robots. So, thumb up for the response!!!!

    Reply
  5. Annie

    Sarcasm never helped anybody. It’s fine to be sarcastic if you are running a stand up show and making fun of people who are not in your audience, but if you are running a restaurant being sarcastic is simply unacceptable. There is an old saying: “customer is always right” and it exists for a good reason. Many people will find this comment offensive, though if you look from the non-marketing angle, it’s epic 🙂

    Reply
    • Experienced

      that old saying “the customer is always right” is offensive in 3 ways 1. it is almost exclusively tauted by those who don’t in the service injury and 2. its not true at all, customers tell me all teh time that their movie is in cinema 3 when the ticket clearly says “cinema 2” and then proceed to argue with the projectionist who is going to make the movie play (this is an average example not even extreme) 3. its dangerously dismissive of humanity. by which I mean: humans make mistakes, if you are saying the customer is always right you are saying they never make mistakes and therefore are not human…that is bad enough in itself but it is worse than terrible because it creates and “us vs them” mentality in the venue or even the entire industry, which then of course leads to bad service.
      The customer is NOT always right.
      stop saying that.
      Its bad for everyone…
      especially customers.

      Reply
  6. Yes2Freebies

    I do agree with the owner, but speaking from the potential customer angle, I’m not sure if that was the best possible move. There are always some gossip among the staff on account of their unreasonable customers and one should be very careful not to allow customers to hear them. Otherwise, every customer can think “Oh, do they talk about me that way?”

    Reply
  7. Arnoldi

    Epic win!

    Reply
  8. Heinrich Sture

    It’s a bit too sarcastic for response on such websites. However, I totally support the owner.

    Reply

Comment