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Online Reputation Management - Tripadvisor

28 Feb, 2019

Online review sites can be difficult to manage for chefs and restaurants, but when it comes to online reputation management you need to tread carefully.

Online Reputation Management - Tripadvisor

Should chefs and restaurant owners defend their establishments on TripAdvisor?
TripAdvisor have long been a nemesis of restaurant owners. Yes, glowing reviews can of course be a welcome PR tool for getting new customers through the door, but many chefs we have worked with say that the site tends to receive more negative reviews which can unfairly skew the ratings if good experiences are not equally reported. However, for consumers it can be really useful in deciding where to make their next reservation so it is important to manage and monitor the way restaurants and other service companies interact online.

Is the customer always right?
In this digital age customers wield a lot of power online as they can express their opinions via websites, blogs and social media. Everyone has an opinion, and someone, somewhere is listening or reading it.

Just less than a week ago a chef-proprietor of a small restaurant group based in the Northwest of England went viral owing to a response to a bad review left by an unhappy customer on TripAdvisor.

Even though the review was very short and quite unspecific, the owner was so incensed by being given 1 star out of 5 that he felt it necessary to post a response personally rather than leave it to his regular operations manager to reply as normal. Instead he engaged in a strongly toned rant as he defended his staff and went as far as to accuse the customer of stealing, that the police had been informed and ended by saying he was banned. The post appeared on Twitter and praise was heaped onto the owner from both the public and members of the hospitality industry for standing up for his business and his team and proving that there are two sides to every story.

Online Reputation Management - Tripadvisor

Was it the right thing to do?
From a PR perspective, it is key for companies and their employees to consider Online Reputation Management. Direct communication with audiences is generally seen as a good thing – inviting opinion and being open to criticism is part and parcel of offering a service or selling a product. But being overly defensive can be a risky reaction as It can spark similar criticisms if there is a genuine issue. Complaints can also open up any weaknesses to competitors so it is something to be aware of. We would advise that all complaints are taken seriously, even if you think there might be a hidden agenda. In this instance the fed-up owner chose a reactionary belittling method to get his own back but a slightly different approach would be our recommendation….

Our Online Reputation Management golden rules:

  1. Never use bad language – remain polite, professional and show a level of care. Others reading the response will be more inclined to be respectful. It is not the moment to take things personally
  2. Be transparent and don’t avoid complaints. It shows there could be something you are hiding. Send a holding message if needed.
  3. Do not be quick to admit liability as this could damage your company further. Apologise for the experience someone has received but do not admit fault until you have checked all the facts.
  4. If someone is trying to defame your company or there is a deliberate scam then look to elevate how you handle the issue. Present correct facts at first and if it continues block and report to the relevant digital platform. In some extreme cases legal advice should be sought.

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