By Kent Campbell, InternetReputationManagement.com
A new dining establishment just received a scathing online review from a restaurant critic or worse — a food blogger. Adrenaline courses through the owner's veins as he contemplates this brazen affront to his integrity.
We've heard all the horror stories of restaurant owners trying to deal with the consequences of negative online reviews — whether critical comments about poor service, food or staff — which can damage a restaurant's reputation and hinder sales for years.
But don't panic. Take a deep breath and address the issue using these five tips.
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Don't respond online: It is possible that any additional comments on the review site will just strengthen the link in the eyes of search engines. By defending yourself online, you may be drawing more attention to the negative.
Don't call your attorney: Or at least think about it first. Your attorney may file a complaint which tends to find its way online, get indexed on Google, and then pops up as a link in Google's search results – it can worsen the problem if handled incorrectly.
Don't share the bad news: Restaurant owners usually want to talk about the bad review with their teams or worse ... online, asking "Can you believe this guy?"
That's the opposite of containing the problem. You share the bad news, which is the same as spreading the negative sentiment. Make your best call, but you don't want it to end up on an employee's Facebook page.
Do call the reviewer (if you can get a hold of his number) and speak calmly. Don't send an email. If you do, the email may be reposted online.
Do try to get the reviewer to retract the comment. If you are able to get a hold of her by phone, offer to fix the problem and see if she's willing to retract the comment once you do. You'll be saving yourself the cost of an Internet reputation expert to push the review further down in Google's search results.
Kent Campbell is founder and chief strategist of InternetReputationManagement.com.