Monday, December 11, 2006

The Brew Lounge 'Topic of the Week': How to deliver a negative review

After a significant lull in our sometimes lively 'Topics of the Week', I'm bringing 'em back! In the past, we've discussed, among other topics, smoking, light beers, and the macro beer segment. This week I'll broach the topic of a negative review of a beer, brewery, or pub. It happens, that's a fact of life. Not everything can be great. But, how do we as advocates of better beer handle the situation? How do you handle it? Do you tell as many people you can? Do you go to an industry website, personal blog, or newsboard and rant? Or do you find a way of directly informing the owner and/or brewer of your experience and opinions? My suggestion here is that we should all first do it directly and tactfully. This means using an avenue of discussion with the proprietor or the brewer. Afterall, is the goal to drive craft brewers out of business or, rather, to a better product? This is where I was heading with my smoking argument a few months back. I'll bet if a bar owner hears from enough customers (and employees, for that matter) that their business will move elsewhere unless the smoking policy changes, the smoking policy will likely change. Why should regulation be needed in that case? Well, regulation is what typically is happening, because enough people do not make their voices heard. Oops, sorry, I've slipped back into another topic... So, how about instead of either complaining or not saying anything at all about a brewpub's lackluster brews, poor servers, inappropriate glassware, unpleasant conditions, .......we make a pact right here that we will first try to address the issue with the owner or brewer. Then, if that doesn't yield desired results, find an outlet (message board, industry website, blog, etc.) to tactfully state the issues. Because, really, at the end of the day we don't want substandard crappy wannabe brewpubs to choose from. But, neither do we want none at all with out-of-work brewers wondering what went wrong. How do you handle situations where you're not happy with the beer, the people, the atmosphere, etc. when you encounter them?


Adam said...

I really like your suggestion, Bryan. There's only one problem. I'm not usually willing to open my mouth. I'm usually able to comment positively, but, the constructive negative feedback makes me very uncomfortable.

I'll tell you what. I'll make a concerted effort to give better feedback. I think you're right. My wife's grandfather told me that it was my responsibility as a customer give feedback to the owner whenever I could.

I think its time to give it some more effort!

Anonymous said...

A coach taught me a long time ago that before you give negative criticism always give two positive compliments first. It shows that you are not just looking at the negative.

Adam said...

Hi Jeff,

Sounds like good advice. That brings us back to Bryan's title for this topic of the week, How to deliver a negative review.

Eli said...

I have a problem giving negative feedback in person, because I'm a huge freakin' wuss. I'm content to grumble under my breath.

That leads to a big gripe of mine. There are a lot of small brewers/brewpubs out there, and it seems to plague the small operations more since they lack a five person marketing team, that simply do not respond to emails.

I can't count on the my fingers the number of times I, as a curious beergeek, have earnestly emailed a brewer hoping to learn more about the product their selling, only to hear crickets chirping in return.

Sorry, end tangent.