Is Yelp the "Restaurant Mafia"?
With the ongoing growth of social media as a way to "get the word out" continues to grow, the seedy side always seems to rear its head. For those not familiar, Yelp is a popular online review site which contains word of mouth reviews, mostly of restaurants. The search results for Yelp tend to rank very high, meaning a post by a guest about your restaurant, whether good or bad, will often show up very readily in Google.
I read about an attempt to hold a restaurant hostage so to speak by very subtly issuing a threat to a restaurant owner. It seems a guest of the restaurant was dissatisfied with their experience in some way and called to complain. No problem so far, any restaurant operator worth their salt would want the opportunity to correct an issue. But here's the disturbing part, once the restaurant manager had apologized and made the reparations that seemed appropriate for the situation, the guest then made an attempt to extort a "ransom" from them by asking for a larger gift card amount in exchange for the hostage-taker not going on Yelp and giving them a bad review.
The negative Yelp review, as well as the positive one, is online forever for all to see. As many brands in the restaurant industry depends heavily on word of mouth advertising, a lot of them seem to fear a negative review on Yelp. And some opportunists have clued in on this and tried to take advantage of this fear.
I would, however, welcome all reviews whether good or bad, and respond online appropriately. A professional and caring response to a poor review can lend more credibility to your operations than can 100% positive reviews.
Don't be held hostage by this type of internet extortion, but use it as an opportunity to show your customer base that you are willing to make things right for your guests.