Bad Review... Great Opportunity
In the world of Social Media, reviews are incredibly important. Reviews can be left online or they can be sent privately as an email/phone call. Whatever form they are in, positive or negative, they are customer feedback. Feedback is "golden" and all feedback is equal, but of course, some feedback is more equal then others.
Most owners and managers of pubs and restaurants are so busy doing their best that a negative review can hurt them more emotionally then anything else. Reading the review can ignite a level of anger and rage which is borne from a defensiveness of their hard work. It's quite natural to feel that way and either not reply to the review or worse still reply in haste.
What most owners and managers forget, is that bad reviews are read at least 10 times more then good reviews. This means a negative review will gain a hell of a lot more eye balls then even your most flattering customer experience retold online. So, why do I say it's a great opportunity? because it's the perfect chance to correct what led to the bad review and to reply in a way that communicates the type of culture your management and staff are building. Culture more then anything drives success.
Responding to a bad review in a positive manner gives the reader a glimpse into your soul. They understand the hurt, that's why they are reading. They want to see how you react. In reacting, you must realize that you are not communicating with the reviewer but the many readers that will come across that review. Your message has no relevance to the reviewer - their mind is made up. Your message is about giving those reading the review the best possible sense of the culture you and your staff are aspiring to.
Review management should be an integral part of your social media strategy and experts like Barbara Shanahan have the experience and nous to get the best out of a bad review. Experience is the real teacher, "you didn't lick it off a stone" as my granny would have told me.
In 2009 an unhappy customer went further then simply writing a bad review but tried to have me fired. When that didn't work they resorted to a popular online forum and told their story in an effort to gain support. I found the post 3 days later as I have systematic Google Alerts which notify me when anyone mentions Slattery's Pub online. Of course I replied - it was my first time to do that. We had no online presence at the time. That reply was read by more then 7,000 people. I had people call in and ask me about "the headband wearing bar man".
I was also fortunate enough to have to handle a bad review live on air with approximately 500,000 people listening in. The Monday after Mclroy's disaster in the final holes of the Masters in 2011 I got a call from an RTE researcher asking would I respond to a scathing customer experience at Slattery's Pub. Of course I would... GULP.
I have never been so nervous. I knew that just like Mclroy had done the day before at Agusta, I could make a right dogs dinner of this. I told the researcher I would only be able to take a call at 2.40pm, this meant that if things went south at least I'd be saved by the bell at 3pm. I have no idea how many people heard the show that day but I lost count of the amount of people who referred positively to it.
The review from my learned friend Murray Aston (title picture) was not untypical. As a business I had set out our stall and targeted a demographic. A review from a market that I was not targeting was a perfect way of communicating that "Slattery's Pub was not everyone's cup of tea".
In all the above examples I used extremely bad customer experiences and subsequent reviews and turned them on their head by appealing to the reader or listener and communicating the culture I was building in Slatterys. Those that disagreed went elsewhere, and those with whom my reactions resonated, they thought something very different. They thought... that's interesting.
Finally, I don't suggest you try this at home, not without some advice and guidance.