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You have to be pretty thick-skinned

CHLOE WINTER
Last updated 12:25 11/02/2014
Juliet Partington
Derek Flynn

Cherry on top: Watery Mouth Cafe owner Juliet Partington says her cafe is recommended by 80 per cent of people reviewing it on TripAdvisor

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In the digital age, complaining about a business or service is easier than ever. But how do businesses respond to criticism online?

Whether people just need to have a whinge or make a genuine complaint, businesses in Picton and Blenheim say they take all feedback seriously.

Watery Mouth Cafe owner Juliet Partington said she held a meeting with her second-in-charge everyday and her staff every month to discuss comments and reviews. "We keep a journal of complaints as well because if I'm not on-site I need to know."

The cafe is ranked 22 out of 77 restaurants in Blenheim on TripAdvisor.com and has received both good and bad reviews.

Her cafe was recommended by 80 per cent of people that had left a review on TripAdvisor, Ms Partington said.

"On TripAdvisor we are getting some really good reviews and I'm passing that on to the staff because they are the ones that make the difference."

She always makes sure her staff check on their customers to ensure they are happy with everything, Ms Juliet said.

"I would much rather them come to me and I can fix it."

She tries to reply to all negative comments but some she cannot fix, she said.

Picton's Gateway Motel owner Kent Stevenson said they also received reviews online that they couldn't do anything about.

"They are cemented in stone. I would like to erase them but you can't.

"You are never going to be perfect and if you think that then you are dreaming."

They reply to negative comments if they feel they have to defend themselves, Mr Stevenson said.

"You just have to be pretty thick-skinned. We live a life of judgment."

Marlborough Chamber of Commerce general manager Hamish Macfarlane said it was best all comments and reviews were dealt with: "It is in the public domain so it needs to be addressed.

"You remember the town if you've had a good or bad experience."

It's all about improving business though sometimes you have to read between the lines, Mr Macfarlane said.

"You know what is true or not," he said. "Between your team you would figure out if it's [a complaint] real."

The Chamber of Commerce run a customer service programme and encouraged all businesses to take advantage of it, he said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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