Colin Charles Agenda

Restaurants need to manage their online reputations

Bloggers are an opinionated lot. They tend to speak the truth (most of the time – let’s ignore undisclosed advertorials). You have a bad experience at an establishment, you have a blog, you’re bound to pen down your thoughts. Its only natural. You’re trying to help the general public that bothers to search for the term, to avoid such a place.

Before blogs and web publishing became popular, folk would write e-mails to their friends, and this may end up being forwarded. In fact, forwarded e-mails still exist till today, for the non-web publishing savvy.

So, I find it surprising that American Chili’s has not discovered social media, blogs, and the online world, just yet. Most complaints tend to circle around the branch in Bangsar Shopping Centre, but looking at the comments, you can see that your mileage may vary at all their outlets. For reference: The best AND worst spot for a Guinness, Bodoh punya manager, american chili’s bangsar says there’s a marked difference between a vodka orange and a screwdriver.

In there, there is a perfect opportunity to respond to folk. All those posts have comments open. Why isn’t Chili’s being engaging? Do they need the “social media experts” to contact them offering services? After all, today, when I Google “chili’s bangsar” (not logged into my Google account, and without quotes), link number 7 and link number 10, point to a couple of the blog posts that I linked to above!

This is the age of the Internet. Start responding to your customers. They have the right to talk back now. Foursquare, Yelp!, blogs, and many other services have given them the opportunity to speak their minds.

Of course, if you plan to start being engaging on the Internet, don’t be arrogant. That’s just a sure fire way to ensure that savvy folk don’t show up at your restaurant. Same Google test (“bar italia malaysia”) – post was #7 on the Google search page. However, there were so many other posts/comments before it about how much Bar Italia did not rock.

So here, I’ve just identified two establishments that need to improve their online reputations. Do you search online before going to eat at a restaurant? Do you put weight on Foursquare tips of places you’re going to?