Think of it as the anti-Yelp.
Orlando-based startup BlurtBox
will allow diners to file complaints via direct message to restaurant managers in real time, thereby doing away with negative online reviews.
The app was developed in the UCF Business Incubation Program by Julien Meyer, a graduate of University of Central Florida's Rosen College of of Hospitality Management. Already, local restaurants Nar Mediterranean Grill and Graffiti Junktion and chains Domino and Spoleto are clients.
Undeniably, sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor put power in consumers' hands, allowing them to give instant feedback. But the unfortunate truth of Yelp, TripAdvisor and even Amazon, if you ask authors and publishers, is that a negative public review can have devastating effects on a business, and not every business has enough staff or hours in the day to spend time calmly responding to every review in a timely manner. Also, sometimes people just lie
. Also also, sometimes the restaurant owners' retorts go too far
"Owners need to know what customers are thinking to provide the best customer experience, and they need to know right away so they can address the issue,” Meyer says in a UCF press release. "BlurtBox gives all customers the power to comment and communicate directly with owners and positively impact businesses that they care about."
As fun as it can be sometimes to watch the back-and-forth between disgruntled customer and perturbed business owner, sometimes it's awkward, like watching your friends fight. Having a direct channel to report serious complaints – or, hey, compliments – seems like a more dignified solution. Just because you want a response doesn't mean you want an audience.
“[BlurtBox] means business owners can use reviews to actually improve their business and not be afraid of online public reviews,” Meyer says.