So in this story, we have Amy Bouzaglo, the owner of Amy’s Baking Company and Joel LaTondress, a local blogger/foodnik/obsessive home cook. Joel visits Amy’s Baking Company, and at the end of the day leaves an unpleasant (for Amy) and bluntly critical one-star review detailing the manner in which he was served and the quality of the food.
The whole point of this story is not the kind of service Joel received or the quality of service, or even the review on Yelp, it was Amy’s reaction.
In the business of online reputation, you never want to do something like this. This is totally damaging to your reputation. A reputation you worked so hard to build can be destroyed instantly by one impulsive action. Because we are human beings, rash and impulsive is something we sometimes do without meaning to.
Here is the Conversation
Here is the link to it. But in case Yelp has removed it. Here is a copy of the review:
In retrospect, I should have known better than to step foot into Amy’s Baking Company (a.k.a. ABC Bistro).
-8 pm on a Saturday night, three tables are occupied
-a sign on the door indicates they’re looking for an experienced line cook, a dishwasher, waitresses, you name it
-Pita Jungle, just a stone’s throw away, is packed to the gills
These are all bad signs. They go ignored, however, because I’d eaten one thing all day, and I had drove here to try their pizza. Never, ever again.
The waitress brings me out a water and a menu to my table for one on the patio, which I had all to myself. Browsing the apps, I was pleasantly surprised to see several things priced $3, which seemed like a bargain, given the high price of everything else. $3 tapanade sounded like a good deal, but I was informed that it didn’t come with anything – it was $3 extra for bread. Since I was solo, I decided to skip it and instead pay $14 for their 12″ margherita pizza.
About three minutes later, the waitress drops off my pizza. “Your pizza”, she says, leaves a plate and off she goes. I sat for a moment, confused as to how things happened so quickly. I try to grab a slice of the pizza, but it was so blazing hot that I wasn’t even going to attempt to handle it. I waited for a few minutes to let it cool off, only to discover that not only had it cooled enough to handle, but was actually well-cooled and most likely reheated. After a closer inspection of the pie in front of me, it was evident that it had been reheated, as there were smaller tomatoes that had spent their time in the oven, and larger tomatoes that had barely been kissed by the heat of the oven.
I took a bite, and was immediately underwhelmed. The crust had very little character, was slightly sweet but had that store-bought quality to it. The pesto tasted okay, but the tomatoes were completely tasteless and overall, it just fell flat . It’s margherita – the ingredients need to shine to make such a simple pizza. These ingredients were sub-par. After two small pieces, I decided I was wasting my calories and just gave up on it.
So I sat outside, not eating, and sat. And sat. Where the hell was the waitress? I glanced inside a few times, hoping to catch her eye, but she must have been occupied elsewhere.
The owner comes out. “How’d you like your pizza?” Instead of immediately responding, I asked how it had come out so quickly. In short, he told me another table had ordered it, decided they didn’t want it, and it sat in the kitchen for two minutes, who in turn decided to send it out to me since I didn’t order anything else.
Me: “Well, it didn’t really taste fresh”.
Him: “No, no, our pizzas are the best. Ask our customers. You’re the first person since we’ve opened to ever not like our pizzas”.
He got very defensive about the pizza, but I hadn’t really launched a harsh criticism on the pizza, just said I didn’t really enjoy it. So I sat some more, with an empty drink, and realized they wanted me gone. The owner wouldn’t make eye contact with me. The server never came back out asking if I wanted something else. And they still hadn’t refilled my drink.
So I sat on a patio, alone, and decided to have a smoke. The waitress comes out…
Her: “Sir, there’s a no smoking sign over there, I was told to tell you to not to smoke here.”
Me: “Is this the last f*** you in this experience?”
Her: “Yes, I think so”.
She walks away. I walk inside, pay the bill, and leave. No apologies, no discounts on the bill, nothing. $18 for weak iced tea and shitty pizza.
This is arrogance in its worst form. I can forgive bad food, but I cannot forgive misplaced arrogance and the blatant dismissal of a customer, whether you agree with them or not.
Perhaps the sign on the door should also say, “Wanted: New owner”.
I cannot, for the life of me, recommend this restaurant to anyone.
To which Amy B. replied:
Dear Joel,L. It is blatantly obvious to me why you were ALONE on a Saturday night!
Read any of the reviews that have been written about us and you will see that EVERYONE loves us!! The only people that don’t is our “Competition”. We knew you had been sent by another restaurant before you even ordered your $14.00 Pizza.
The Pizza was fresh and amazing. The reason the tomatoes had different texture was because I use three different heirloom tomatoes and some of them are sundried. So of course they are going to have a different texture from the fresh ones!!!
But perhaps you are only accustomed to tasting the ones that come “fresh from the can!”
Moving on to the “Store bought Dough” Comment. PLEASE!! My dough is made fresh every day from 100% organic ingredients. Perhaps your palate is not sophisticated enough to tell the difference.
As for you having the Patio all to yourself unless you have been living on another PLANET it is summertime in ARIZONA MORON!!! Only TRAMPS and LOSERS want to sit outside in 110 temperatures!!!!
We are hiring because we are so busy that we need to hire more people. You just so happened to come right after a huge rush. And the people did not change their mind for the Margarita Pizza they ordered. They were still enjoying their amazing Caesar salad and I thought perhaps you would appreciate not having to wait so long for your pizza. Which was just coming out of the OVEN.
I am the CHEF and the owner, and I am the one that made your Pizza.
As for the no smoking comment everyone knows that it is against the LAW to smoke within 20 feet of a public place. But perhaps you think you are above the LAW. Have a little respect not everyone wants to subject themselves to being around second hand smoke.
And as for the overpriced menu items if you think that $12.00 is too much for an ENTRÉE sized ORGANIC Salad or $14.00 is too much for an AMAZING Pizza then perhaps you should go to the PITA JUNGLE that is just a stone’s throw away. And if you get lucky maybe you can even dig up someone up to take with you so you can share a $5.00 Falafel.
Do US a favor and keep your ugly face and you ugly opinions to yourself and go back to the restaurant that you really work at!!
I would LOVE for anyone who reads this review to come to ABC and try our Pizza. If you don’t like it then I guarantee you don’t have to pay for it.
What lessons in Online Reputation Management Can You Learn from this?
Never resort to insults
Never bring yourself down to the level of insulting the reviewer. Never. It is absolutely unacceptable. The internet will never forgive you. Always, by all means, be civil and seek to resolve the conflict immediately. Do not turn the reviewer to your enemy and begin calling names and making allegations you can’t prove.
Focus on resolving the problem in a civil manner
In your comment, instead of going on the defensive and sounding hostile, be calm and attentive to the reviewer. Try to find the problem and look inwards and ask important questions like where in your pipeline is the problem originating from? Are you really to blame for this? Is this review true or false? Is the person just trying to be mischievous and destroy your business image?
In situations where the person is being mischievous, you have the law on your side. You can let the cops know. Because whether it is true or false, bad reviews will always hurt your business.
Hire an Online Reputation Management Agency
Running your business and also your social media accounts, websites and watching out for your online reputation is something you cannot balance efficiently. Especially if you don’t own a very small business. Note, I said very small. It could be very stressful even if you manage to do it, and because of the stress of doing all that at the same time, you are more likely to get frustrated and lash out at a reviewer who seems to be trying to undo all your effort at building a solid brand image online. You need someone else, a professional, an expert online reputation manager to handle these things for you. Many corporations have recorded success with this. You too can relax knowing that your image online is spotless.
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