Web reviews

When I graduated from UCSB in 1998 I had barely ever used email nor spent any time online. Doesn’t seem that long ago but back then most colleges didn’t offer classes about email or “the web”.  Since then the internet has drastically changed how we do business and undoubtedly how the world turns.

Pre-internet if you wanted to take a vacation you physically went to speak with a travel agent. If you needed to research something you went to the library or to a bookstore. And if you wanted an opinion on a restaurant or a local business you asked someone you knew. Today however, you can research far more in far less time than ever imagined. Most of the time I think the endless supply of information empowers us but it’s important to disseminate information from opinion.

Websites like Yelp.com and the local SantaBarbara.com host reviews both good and bad but it seems to  me people are more likely to write a negative review than a positive one. I’ve always been amazed that people take the time to do this (on any website) but also that other people read and actually trust such reviews from people they don’t even know. The power of Yelp or any other site that hosts reviews is unbelievable as it can both deliver and deter customers.

Anyone in business or simply with a job knows you can’t please everyone all the time – no matter how hard you try. Whether you work in a restaurant or at a large company, things don’t always go perfectly. And as consumers, we’ve all been let down or disappointed at one time or another by some company or brand.

Yesterday I met with a restaurant owner who was frustrated with the amount of time he’s spending monitoring websites and blogs and particularly responding to one unhappy and malicious customer who took the time to post negative reviews across multiple websites. Interestingly enough, it was the owner who actually waited on this customer and felt he had gone above and beyond to fix a minor oversight made by his chef. The customer didn’t complain or speak up at the time but instead went home and expressed his opinions anonymously online.

Where I’m going with this is that I learned a long time ago to replace my complaints with requests. Otherwise, my negative output is wasted on the wrong ears. Next time you have a bad experience anywhere try sleeping on it and then contacting the person or company that you feel let you down. Take an amicable approach and try turning your complaint into a request. You’re not only more likely to get a reasonable and fair response, you’ll also feel better about it because writing negative reviews really doesn’t fix anything relative to your situation.

Most business owners have worked their butts off to build their company and make their customers happy. They’ve often invested their life savings into the business and rely on it to pay their mortgages, put their kids through school, etc. So I urge you to to keep all this in mind the next time you feel the urge to publicly post your opinion. And if you absolutely must write something negative, try to counter it by writing a few positive reviews too.

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22 Responses to “Web reviews”

  1. Karen says:

    I like this. Changes my attitude about feeling ‘entitled’ every time I walk into a shop or restaurant. We are all working hard to live and I’d much rather support small local business than big enterprise. Thanks for the insight!

  2. Michael says:

    The flip side is for business’ to really listen when people come to them with requests to fix something wrong. When someone takes a positive approach like you suggest and the company still screws it up…….well, those businesses usually don’t stay in business for too long.

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