Internet reviews are like a genie in the bottle for many businesses. But, no one feels the effects of these reviews more than restaurant owners. They seem to always struggle with negative reviews, even if they do their best in providing customer service, and sometimes the situation is through no fault of their own.
When used correctly, reviews allow businesses to elevate the standard of their service by identifying their weaknesses and revising them accordingly. But, this world is nothing if not imperfect, and the power of reviews has fallen into abusive hands on more than one occasion.
If you have spent any time on the internet, there’s no point in illustrating the kind of human scum that will do anything to sound important to complete strangers. These are the “reviewers” that get off on being cynical and pessimistic, just for the attention that negativity has the penchant of attracting, even if what they say is inaccurate or completely false.
Restaurant owners have few tools to defend themselves against such attacks other than existing customer loyalty. An establishment such as The Barn Pub & Restaurant in Tunbridge Wells, for example, is approaching a quarter of a century of existence. No business stays open for that long without accumulating a small army of patrons. It will take more than a handful of attention seeking cynics to sink that ship.
The problem is more pressing for new businesses that depend on every good impression to stay afloat. One bad experience can easily turn potential patrons away, and ruin an owner’s livelihood. But, what can any of these entrepreneurs do against the internet trolls that would gladly see them sink for their own vilification?
One restaurant owner is choosing to fight back, by answering each unfairly negative review with a long rant. Paolo Martone is taking the unconventional and often ill-advised, tactic of firing back at his critics; calling them ‘tragic freeloaders’ and ‘vexatious complainers’.
The only way Martone can get away with this strategy of defending his business is because within his long rants, there are legitimate examples and reasons that expose unfair criticism. It is difficult to say whether he can sustain this in the long run, but this situation can serve as a good case study for new restaurant owners to combat internet trolls.