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On The Nature of Online Reviews

I was just browsing through K&L's Yelp reviews, and while we have a high four and a half star rating, I can't help but think about the nature of the few bad reviews we have and their origins.  To see if the grievances were of a similar nature between liquor stores, I decided to search out the standard Bay Area competition to see what the complaints were.  Sure enough, there are a handful that are similar between us.  This is what I have to say about certain negative experiences: everyone has bad days.  I have been discussing first impressions lately amongst close friends and a few of those closest to me believe that one bad encounter is all it takes to dismiss someone for the rest of eternity.  She looked at me wrong, he didn't acknowledge me - that's it!  You're written off permanently.  I, however, am a bit more forgiving and I try to be understanding.  Here's why:

I know for a fact that I am responsible for at least one previous K&L shopper deciding to never again grace us with his presence.  The reason?  I was tired, trying to get the shelves stocked, and I didn't have the patience to put on a happy face.  The customer was wondering why we didn't carry his favorite gin and I basically said that I didn't feel it was as good as some of the other gins we currently had.  It was the wrong thing to say because it made this customer feel like I was condescending to him, and wine shops are thought of as snooty enough places as is.  However, I realized my folly and tried to mitigate the situation, but the damage had been done.  The point?  I think most of you out there know that I'm not a complete prick and will try to help you as much as possible should you come to K&L.  I get a bit frustrated with this instantaneous-news-coverage age where one off day can lead to poor reviews from a major website.  I try to take these with a grain of salt, but then I start to think about all the poor restaurant servers and other hospitality jobs that get shredded by someone online who happened to catch them at a less than opportune moment in time. 

The overall statement I would like to make is that you need to base a strongly worded review over the culmination of several experiences to really make a valid judgement.  If I go to a restaurant and the hostess is rude, but the waiter and food are excellent, then I'm not going to hold one hostess against the entire place.  However, this is the nature of today's modern society - rash reviews based on rash emotional responses written meer moments after the said incident has occured thanks to our handy smart phones. 

I wish that one customer would come back into the store so that I could really give them quality service, but their mind is made up.  Sometimes one chance is all you get. 

-David Driscoll

Reader Comments (3)

If memory serves Dave, you were once a graduate student. If so, then you should view these kinds of reviews like teaching evaluations. In other words, like undergraduate students, there will always be customers that "get you," as there will be those folks who are inevitably rubbed the wrong way. So long as you can answer to yourself that you gave a customer your best advice, then you've done your job. If you know of cases where you haven't done that then you're right to take yourself to task - and then move on to be better next time.

Four and half stars is pretty darned good.

December 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSamuel Muindi

That's a good point Samuel. I'll try to look at it that way. I just feel bad for the other businesses out there that have a few one star reviews based on the actions of one employee, rather than the way their operation runs as a whole.

December 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I used to think it was awful that a particularly bad day at my last job, a day that helped me realize I was ready to move on, was "immortalized" by a Yelp reviewer who happened to be there and observed my despondence... but I think it must actually sting more when it's a job you love and where you consistently kick ass. We're all just people and no one is perfect. I think/hope potential customers are learning to take into consideration when reading a review the haste and emotion that could have been in play when it was posted. I know I am.

December 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa W.

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