By Dana Dean
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Twitter and Facebook are giving everyone the platform to be a food critic.
A local restaurant owner is changing the way the industry handles online Feedback and it could get you perks.
We've all been there. You go out to eat and service was slow. Or that hot meal came out lukewarm. But instead of telling a manager, you tell the world on social media.
"People often don't talk to a business directly anymore," saod Chris Sommers, founder of Pi Pizzeria. "Often, sometimes, don't even tell their server; let's say, in a restaurant, that they're having a bad experience but they will go straight to their social networks."
Sommers said negative chatter on social media can create a problem for restaurants.
"The problem is that business owners often don't know what to do with it," he said.
Sommers, who has a technology background, thinks the answer is in a website he created called Sqwid. The software grabs comments from Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and other networks and brings them all to one place, where businesses can monitor them.
"I thought about all of these tentacles reaching out from one central location," Sommers said.
Sqwid allows businesses to respond to comments in a way customers might never expect, by extending the olive branch with a free meal or appetizer. That's exactly what happened to Pi Pizzeria customer Patrick Hawley after he tweeted about his experience.
"In using the online ordering system, I ran into some problems. So I put out a Tweet about it," Hawley said.
Sommers saw the Tweet and responded with an apology, plus a link for Hawley to redeem a free pizza.
"It's nice customer service to receive a reply from a Tweet but especially to receive a reply with a little bonus on top," Hawley said.
Sommers said he sends rewards about 20 customers who comment on social media every week, but adds it's not just the negative reviews getting the perks.
"It's pretty subjective. But if they're out there evangelizing about my business, it's a small price to pay," he said.
Sommers invested $100,000 into Sqwid. He said it's the first technology of its kind.
Businesses can sign up for free on www.sqwid.com to see what people are saying about them and to send their customers rewards.