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Combating the Bad Review: Why a Bad Review is a Good Thing by Nicole Valentin

thumbs-downTruth: Running a restaurant was easier before social media. And if you’re an established business that’s been around for over 20 years, the social media boom forced you to relearn a lot of basic 101 business practices. Now you have to check your Facebook status, keep the site updated, make sure your SEO is #1, and of course, tend to online reviews of your establishment that are less than flattering, and sometimes downright mean.

What seems worse, your business is judged based on how you tend to all of this social practicum. But, was running a restaurant really better before the social boom? No way! Social media birthed a mass communication web that allows customers and businesses to interact with each other on a direct basis. Regardless of the risk, and those pesky yelp reviews, that’s actually a very good thing. Here’s why:

1. You have a current snapshot of how your customer base views you.
Wouldn’t you like to know what people think of you the moment they are thinking it? It would be much easier to figure out a business strategy for tomorrow if you knew where you stood with your customers today. That’s basically what online reviews show you. Somebody has a bad experience, and they are off “yelping” about it. But, it’s better they post it there than tell ten of their friends not visit your establishment without your knowledge. Sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon give you the opportunity to change a customer’s opinion of you and provide you with areas of improvement.

2. You can openly communicate with your patrons and squash a negative review immediately.
It hurts to get a bad review, especially if you feel that it was unmerited. We all know that some online reviewer’s can be a bit, how do I say, “nitpicky.” But at least now you can address it head on. I have a lot of respect for business owners who openly acknowledge a disgruntled customer online and offer to make it up to them on their next experience. It not only reinforces the idea that you care, but it also shows potential new patrons that you are a business owner who values the opinions of their customer base and isn’t afraid to admit they made a mistake, even if you secretly feel you didn’t.

 3. More people are being exposed to your restaurant than ever before at no cost to you!
Before the technology boom, word of mouth within a certain mile radius was your main source of customer pull. Now, people are online talking about their experiences in detail at yourrestaurant, and you’re not even paying them to do it! What are social media and online review sites if not a mainstream form of “word of mouth?” Many business owners I speak to tell me that word of mouth is the most important form of advertising to them. Given that logic, online and social media should be on the top of your priority list. It’s word of mouth with a quantifiable link back to your business.

4. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay.
Online reviews tell you what you’re doing right and where you can improve. But they also show you the people who appreciate your unique experience and the ones who don’t. That’s great news because you now have a better picture of your target demographic and can cater your marketing and business strategies to those patrons. Remember what Mom told you when you were young, “Not everyone is going to want to play with you. And that’s okay.” It’s just as true today as it was when we were children on the playground. Not everyone is going to understand, appreciate, or want to dine at your restaurant. And that’s okay.

“If your number one goal is to make sure that everyone likes and approves of you, then you risk sacrificing your uniqueness, and, therefore, your excellence.” ~Unknown

About Nicole Valentin

Nicole Valentin heads one of Tampa Florida’s most innovative advertising firms, NV Advertising, which she founded in 2010. Ms. Valentin graduated from USF's School of Mass Communications with a B.A. in Advertising and counts on over 12 years of advertising media experience. In her spare time, Nicole loves traveling, learning about world cultures and spending time with her family - especially her dog, Jake. You can find Nicole on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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