Friday, February 20, 2009

Shameless Corporate Plug

In the news recently, a restaurant in NB got slammed on facebook. This is every operator's worst nightmare. This is the dread in the back of every operator's mind - the posting of negative feedback ONLINE.

While I won't mention details, the scenario is that it was a busy night, a patron was seated, was not happy with the seating, and was verbally rebuffed by management. She took her issue to her facebook page, created a group to ban the restaurant, and almost immediately got 1,100 others to join her.

There are many lessons here.

First, if the management and staff had Superhost training from TIANB, perhaps they would be better at customer service relations. We also offer Food Safety, and Responsible Beverage... that's the shameless corporate plug. It's a fact that trained staff know what to do and not to do in situations like this. Trained staff feel better appreciated and stay longer.

Second, if the patron had known of another outlet to vent her rage, she may have used that instead of facebook. For example corporate emails, corporate blogs and forums on your own corporate websites. You need to provide outlets for patron rage, in a sense it will give you some control.

Third, there's a golden rule that if you're getting negative comments online, then you've got a problem offline. It's as simple as that. This patron didn't start out to create such a fuss, but it appears she is not alone in her opinion of this establishment and 1,099 others were just waiting for this group to start ! They were just out there waiting.

This is why you NEED to start a facebook group. If you had a facebook group of your own, perhaps she would have done a search for you on facebook, posted a comment to your group, and you could have answered personally about what you were going to do to prevent it from happening ever again.

If you had your own facebook group, perhaps a few of the other 1,099 folks that seem to have issues would have posted before now, and you could have sat back and thought, maybe there is a problem. (It's called an ounce of prevention.)

You would never delete such a comment but use it for what it is, genuine feedback, and respond appropriately. In your "contained" environment. Or in your online forums on your website.

People wanted to turn this into a problem with technology - the Ultra Bad Power of facebook. It's not. What this boils down to is a customer service problem that bled into the internet. There were many many many opportunities for this restaurant to resolve this patron's issue before it went online.

In today's economic climate - customer service is going to make or break you.

Get your staff Superhost trained.

And start a facebook group.

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