Online reviews can make or break a business, and I’m not just talking about the ones left by customers. Although it’s a great idea for companies to respond to every online review they get (good or bad), a company can make a bad situation way, way worse by responding to a review in a disrespectful, defensive, or flat out insulting way. Here are some examples of some of the most disastrous ways that business owners have ever responded to bad online reviews.
Thanksgiving: A Day For Togetherness.
When you spend 200 dollars on a meal, you expect it to be prepared to your specifications. If it isn’t to your liking, you certainly don’t expect a condescending and vulgar response from the restaurant owner when you complain. Granted, the customer was pretty rough on the restaurant, but there’s no excuse for this rant!
The Radiator Doctor Doesn’t Stand For Internet Tough Guys!
The Radiator Doctor may sound like an obscure 80’s hard rock band, but it’s actually an auto repair shop in California. Or at least, it used to be: it is now closed, and bad customer service and macho responses to customer complaints like this one likely had a hand in its demise:
Rock on, Radiator Doctor!
Thanks For Your Comment! (But Generic Answers and Responses Help Nobody)
Is there anything more infuriating than getting a canned, unhelpful response to your problem from a corporate communication channel? Unfortunately for frustrated travellers, airlines are some of the worst when it comes to this. Watch as American Airlines tweets the same absurdly confident canned response over and over: even in response to a complaint.
And for a business that operates 24/7, why keep your Twitter feed “open” for only EIGHT HOURS a day? Passengers, be sure that you only allow the airline to lose your baggage during their predetermined “business hours”. Thank you!
Fining People For Leaving Bad Reviews? Oh Union Street Guest House, You So Crazy!
Dissuading people from leaving bad reviews is tempting, but threatening to fine them? The Union Street Guest House in New York deciding to stick some fine print in their check in documents that threatened to stick their guests with a 500 dollar fine if they left a negative review! Not surprisingly, there was backlash, and they currently have a 1.5 rating on Yelp because of it and their other dishonest practices.
Say It To The Chef’s Face, You Big Sissy!
Not every diner is going to like what you serve them. What a wonderful job being a chef would be if they did, right? When James Isherwood commented on one unsavory element of an otherwise enjoyable meal, the extremely thin-skinned chef went on a rampage:
Incredibly, two other chefs later joined in the attack on James Isherwood, resulting in him eventually deleting his Twitter account. This leads me to ask: are all chefs this sensitive to criticism, or is this an isolated case?
Nestle: All The Social Media Smarts of a Jar of Palm Oil, With None of the Smoothness
Greenpeace activists had a beef with Nestle over their use of palm oil that was harvested from deforested areas. So many people were complaining on their Facebook page that they banned anyone that had an altered Nestle logo as their profile picture. However, Nestle decided to go one step further by insulting the commenters, as you can see below. Actually, a jar of palm oil might have done a better job than Nestle’s (likely former) social media manager, because doing nothing at all is better than doing this:
Oh Yeah, and Don’t Track Down the Person Who Left the Review and Attack Them at Home!
You’d think this would be a given, but I guess it isn’t! The owner of a now-closed bookstore in San Francisco got so mad at this fairly benign review that she wrote him harassing emails, tracked the guy down, barged into his home and then physically assaulted him. She was cited for battery and placed in psychiatric holding, proving that sometimes that legal system gets it right.
In the words of Bill & Ted: WHOA!
I AM WONDER WOMAN, BRING IT ON!
Amy’s Baking Company is one of the few restaurants that Gordon Ramsey ever gave up on during an episode of Kitchen Nightmares. After reading some of the things the bistro has said when responding to customer complaints, it’s easy to see why! Caps lock may not be cruise control for cool, but it’s definitely cruise control for internet mockery: the insane rant backfired on them so bad, they later claimed their account was hacked. (It wasn’t.) Let’s follow the treacherous tracks of the “crazy train.”
It goes from sanctimonious:
To downright delusional:
I mean, parents of a HUMAN kid?! As we all know, Wonder Woman was molded from clay and brought to life by a goddess. That doesn’t sound human to me, Amy’s Baking Company! (And if the current kids they mention having aren’t human, what in the world are they?!
But all good things have to come to an end, so after it was all over, they claimed the rant was all someone else’s fault. Shocking, no?
Thanks for the memories, Amy’s Baking Company! Unfortunately for you and all the other companies on this list, the internet is forever, so the next time your company faces a bad review, show professionalism and discretion when you respond. Even if the customer is out of line or even downright insulting, be the bigger person: because very often, the customer is always right in the eyes of the internet. Keep in mind that your business may actually end up benefitting from the bad review once people see how professional you were in the face of adversity!
Find out more about G4H Consulting’s ReviewLead, a program for local marketing and reputation management, and find out ways to avoid the same mistakes!