Thanks to the popularity of sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook, pretty much any local business today is vulnerable to receiving a bad online review.
That’s why smart marketers and business owners have added online review management to their strategies: to minimize the impact of negative comments left by customers, as well as to reinforce and leverage the positive ones in order to drive business performance.
Not everyone has bought into this, though. Some businesses still don’t know how to handle harsh reviews on Yelp or Google or TripAdvisor. And they react to the reviews in ways that damage their business reputation.
Here are some recent examples of such reputation disasters and cases of review management gone wrong:
Restaurateur calls customer an “ignorant, disgusting, miserable, lying filthy c*** pig” on Facebook
You might have heard of this story a couple of months ago, when a restaurant-goer was surprised to find a (belated) response to the negative Facebook review she had left of Sunset Terrace a year before.
Brooke Lewis, who didn’t have the best dining experience at Sunset Terrace restaurant in Thousand Oaks, decided to review the business in July 2014 on Facebook. She was shocked to find a profanity-filled response to her review a year later.
Now, it would have been perfectly fine if the review response was one year late but contained a professional, polite, positive message. This, however, was none of those.
“Brookie, you are an Ignorant, Disgusting, Miserable, Lying Filthy C*** Pig!” reads the response, authored by a “Tyrone” and which has since been deleted.
“I feel so bad for your mother, having to feel responsible for such a Foul, Repugnant, Waste of Space just because it spilled from her schizophrenic vagina. As for your poor embattled boyfriend Erik, please, please, please have the common decency to kill yourself before you burden him with a half S*** child. The world will be a better place once you are no longer a part of it.”
Ouch! Sunset Terrace has since apologized publicly for the profanity-laced tirade, but Brooke was not amused. “I can’t believe that he responded like that.” she told KABC.
“I’ll be watching you, little man”
Meanwhile, at Ninja City Kitchen in Cleveland, a chef managed to track down a Yelper online so he could send a series of threatening messages, with a small plate of racism on the side.
Here’s an excerpt of the owner’s response to a customer named Ruchu.
“Have fun f****** an ugly Indian b**** behind your ugly Asian bitch’s back you p**** mother*****. Straight up through if I ever see you near my places of business, we are going to have a discussion,” wrote Chef Bac Nguyen of Ninja City Kitchen. “One day when you’re not living off mommy and daddy you’ll understand. You’re ugly and physically weak and your girlfriend is an ugly piece of s***.
“Trying to trash my business when you know we have mutual acquaintances and you who I am is tantamount to you f****** with me personally. So, I’ll be watching you little man. I will be watching you.”
“I’ll be watching you” could be lyrics from a Sting song, but we’re pretty sure that in this disastrous review management case, Chef Nguyen meant those words a lot less fondly. It’s worth noting that he has since publicly apologized for what he’d written, even offering a free meal to people who joined a boycott Ninja City Kitchen page on Facebook.
Are you in charge of your organization’s review management strategy? Here are a few notes to consider when you’ve found that you received a harsh online review
- Respond promptly. Don’t let the review sit there for a year. Potential customers might read that and make negative assumptions about your business.
- Respond professionally. You might be able to turn the bad review around even if you wait a year to respond. But if you call the customer a “c*** pig”? You’re probably going to end up in the headlines, and for all the wrong reasons.
- Respond politely. Keep it civil, No need for threats! The reactions of the business owners in the cases above are obviously of the extreme kind, but even something as subtle or passive-aggressive as “Don’t come back” or “Sorry you got offended” can cause severe damage to your business reputation.