When an online critic goes mad, an online critic goes mad. Such was the case with Mr. Alex Cohen, who – as you can see above – didn’t exactly have the most pleasant experience at Southfork Kitchen, a sustainable seafood and local produce restaurant in Bridgehampton, New York.
“AVOID THIS RESTAURANT,” Mr. Cohen wrote. “We left NEVER TO RETURN TO THIS HORRIBLE PLACE.”
According to Southfork Kitchen owner Bruce Buschel, this TripAdvisor review has also been posted on a few other local business and restaurant review sites, including Yelp and 27East.com. “(Mr. Cohen’s review) will follow us to the cyber cemetery,” wrote Mr. Buschel. “Mr. Cohen is on an upper-case mission.”
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Of course, this doesn’t mean that Southfork Kitchen couldn’t do anything to stop the man on a mission. (Or at least minimize the impact of his personal social media blitz.) Following some of the most important steps in responding to negative online reviews, Mr. Buschel stayed cool and calm and didn’t let himself get emotional; he managed instead to create one of the most noteworthy review responses a business owner can have. Read on to find out what happened!
Managing a Negative Review on Social Media Sites
Business performing the amazingness: Southfork Kitchen, a rustic seafood restaurant that specializes in local, organic, and seasonal fare.
Social media and review sites involved: We commend Southfork Kitchen for the online review monitoring efforts: it seems indeed like this restaurant is on top of what their diners are saying, especially after having eyed Mr. Cohen’s rather nasty review on multiple review sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and 27East.com.
What happened: Obviously, Mr. Cohen did not have a great experience at Southfork Kitchen. He went on one of the busiest nights (New Year’s Eve), it was too crowded (he hadn’t made a reservation), he didn’t get to try the acclaimed entrees, he wasn’t able to even sample the tastings, and he left after finding the owner to be arrogant and careless. Thus he wrote a bad review.
What Southfork Kitchen did: Fortunately, Mr. Buschel is smart enough to realize how important it is to unlock his business listings on restaurant review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, 27East.com, and OpenTable. That way, he’s able to keep an eye on what diners are saying about Southfork Kitchen. He’s able to listen to and join conversations about his business.
Here’s what he did next to manage the online reviews written by Mr. Cohen. He bit the bullet. He admitted that his restaurant made mistakes. He apologized. He thanked the reviewer for using his right to voice his opinion, and he vowed to turn feedback into performance. He also explained his side. But instead of using each online review platform to respond to the same review over and over, Mr. Buschel posted his diplomatic response in just one public place. Just how public? Try The New York Times.
Here’s a portion of his response, which was published in the “You’re the Boss” blog:
Why it works: Responding to negative reviews isn’t easy. As a business owner, you’ll feel like someone is out to take you and your place down – especially if that someone happens to be a Mr. Cohen, who’ll post the same review on multiple sites and review aggregators just to make sure everyone hears about how bad he thinks your business is being run.
Southfork Kitchen’s response works because it’s cool and calm. And it’s on The New York Times. Obviously aware of the impact that online reviews can have on a business, Mr. Buschel responded in a way that’s visible to everyone – including potential customers – and not just Mr. Cohen.
Result: Mr. Buschel is at least as Internet-savvy as Mr. Cohen – if not more – and there would be no Times article if Southfork Kitchen never claimed their business listings and monitored online reviews. The NY restaurant also happens to have earned a bunch of OpenTable Diner’s Choice Awards, including “Fit for Foodies” and “Seafood” honors for restaurants in the Long Island / Hamptons area. The crowning touch: a spot on the today’s edition of RT Best Practices.