17 May When Following up with Customers Goes Too Far
When does following up with your customers go too far? Probably when it’s arguably become some form of harassment, or just downright annoying! Don’t kill your online reputation over one review.
There’s no getting around following up with customers, whether it’s to inquire about their latest visit or give them a friendly reminder to respond to a customer feedback survey or review request. For example, in the event of getting a bout of lengthy radio silence from a customer, that may signify it’s time to move on.
And please, pretty please, whatever you do, don’t show up on the customer’s doorstep like this restaurant owner did last year in Sterling, VA.
Yesha Callahan, deputy managing editor of online African-American culture magazine, The Root, posted on Yelp a three-star review about her experience with La Porchetta, a new restaurant in her neighborhood. She was eager to try it and order a burger through the food delivery service, GrubHub. She wasn’t too excited about her purchase, claiming it was dry, unseasoned, it didn’t come with tomato or lettuce and maybe next time she’d get pizza.
The owner’s response could have been so easy! That last line in her review is a ray of hope that even though this experience wasn’t so great, she’s up for a redemption round, giving the owner or another employee, (maybe someone familiar with PR?) and opening to fix the problem.
But, alas, that was not the case.
Instead, the restaurant owner, who was clearly not so pleased with the review, took matters into his own hands. At 10pm he showed up Callahan’s doorstep asking to talk to her about the review. He even called her cell phone—he most likely got from the GrubHub order—multiple times asking her to come to the door.
Callahan quickly updated her review:
There goes the restaurant. Unfortunately for La Porchetta, the customer’s door who the restaurant owner decided to bang down happened to be an editor at a very happening news publication and Callahan took full advantage of that (who wouldn’t?!). May 8 she ran a story about the event titled, Here’s What Happened After I left a Three-Star Yelp Review for a Pizza Parlor, in which she chronicled, in detail, this whole ordeal.
She even calls out Yelp on Twitter for not doing anything about it all. They did eventually respond (even THEY have to respond to customers sometimes!), apologized, and claimed they were investigating the situation.
La Porchetta still only has four reviews, the highest one being two stars. No one else has been very happy about what the restaurant is doing, according to those reviews. But they have done something right: hired a public relations professional to respond to reviews and try to clean up this mess.
In the PR person’s response to Callahan’s review, she does what we preach: acknowledge the problem, show some empathy/apologize, and open lines of communication for further discussion. One misstep, however, was defending the restaurant owner’s actions of showing up on her doorstep, albeit acknowledging 10pm may not have been the best time for doing so. Nice attempt at redemption, but maybe skip that part, next time. Hopefully there will be no next time.
This thing garnered so much attention, Yelp felt the need to put up discretionary warnings to reviewers of the amount of traffic the profile was getting and asked people not use it as a means to vent their personal and political opinions. (For more on that, see our recent post, “How Online Reviews Have Been Used to Take Down Businesses”)
Because it can be contagious. This guy’s profile says he’s from Texas. Maybe he’s just visiting, but hard to say:
Definitely follow up with your customers. But for the sake of your online reputation, when you get a negative review, take a deep breath to calm your nerves and call an online reputation management firm.