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07 July 2015 | Liz Bowen

Oh dear. Another day, another venue taking to social media to attack customers for voicing their opinions.

This time, the folks at Canada Wood Kitchen in Falkirk decided it would be the perfect outlet on which to tell a customer to “grow a pair”.

The customer in question was 27-year-old Phil Jeruzal, who after taking his girlfriend to the restaurant for Sunday lunch, felt a little let down by the experience and, naturally, took to Facebook to tell everyone about it.

Now, after firstly praising its location, staff and venue, Mr Jeruzal went on to say that he just didn’t think the chef really knew what he was doing.

After saying he appreciated the restaurant’s aspirations for a “high quality dining experience”, he said the quality produce was poorly handled and offered neither quality nor quantity. He finished his review by suggesting a new head chef could make the place “excellent”.

It’s not the worst review in the world. It’s certainly not rude or unnecessarily attacking, it’s just one person saying what they think, as people do on a daily basis.

The problem is these thoughts are being shared on the Internet, and can, understandably, cause a bit of embarrassment for the person on the receiving end.

But if you’re going to respond and say your peace, causing the customer to blast your “hilariously unprofessional response” it’s a good time to stop. Certainly not the best idea to then go back with an equally hilariously unprofessional response.

When working with clients on a social media strategy, one of the first things we make quite clear to them is that you cannot escape bad reviews on the Internet – everyone is entitled to say what they think; you can either ignore it or take it on the chin. You might even learn something from it.

Second point is that word spreads fast on the Internet … that sarky comment you’re about to leave on an open social media page in response to a negative review will be seen. By people. A lot of them. Probably even more than read the original negative review.

Not only do you risk alienating the reviewer, you also need to think about the impression this is making not only to potential new customers, but existing ones.

Sure, those customers may have previously left a string of 4 or 5 star reviews, but they are probably doing so under the assumption that not only do you provide good food and service, you also value your customers. Telling a customer to “grow a pair” publically is not valuing them.

Remember that thing people say about the Internet, i.e. not saying things to people online that you wouldn’t say to them in real life? Some in the hospitality trade might do well to remember that, especially when calling out a reviewer for hiding behind the safety of their PC … pot, kettle, anyone?

If your business is built upon customer relationships … probably best not to burn those virtual bridges.