One of my favorite groups, Public Enemy, used to wrap about this back when I was 16. Well, 20 years later, it is back, only Social Media is rapping about it now. The article below is something I sent my management team to read and understand. I copy/pasted this article from a restaurant consultant I follow named Joel Cohen.
I had this same conversation with Ryan Cox (@Coxymoney) last night at the #indytweetup at Scotty's @brewhouse on 96th St. The summation of our talk and this article was this:
The power has always been in our guest's hands/wallets. If you don't treat them well, they will go elsewhere. What is different in today's society, the power of technology and reach. The old addage used to be, "Make a guest happy and they'll tell 1 person about their experience. Make a guest mad and they will tell 10." With the advent of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and the dozens of other social media - "...make a guest mad, and they could tweet 1,000's." You won't just lose a customer, you may lose your business.
As I learn and experience more and more with social media and the hospitality field, I make only 1 plea to Tweeple - before you broadcast to 1,000's - let the owner or manager know of the problem. Give people a chance to fix their mistake. We are all human, we all care and want to try to do better (or most of us do). "I can't fix it if I don't know it's broken." After you tell me and give me ample time to correct the problem, if I still haven't rectified your issue - well, then, the Twitter world awaits you...
Read more here from Joel.
How Social Media Has Given The "Power To The People"
This past month, one of the largest and most devastatingly, yet successful online reputation attacks on a corporation took place. A huge airline was brought to its knees, humbled, shamed and reprimanded by a passenger for damaging his guitar during a flight.
Finally, after a 12 month period of the airline refusing to take his request for compensation seriously and exhibiting poor and non-responsive customer service, the passenger - a singer/songwriter - recorded a whimsical video and uploaded it to YouTube. After 4.5 million views and world-wide negative publicity about their customer service procedures, an embarrassed United Airlines finally - yes finally, took notice. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo)
The lessons for all restaurants (and all companies) no matter what size you are, are quite obvious:
The power is now in the hands of your guests to use the web to embarrass you if your service is sub-standard and problems are not remedied in a timely manner.
Viral marketing has the ability to strongly promote the positive side of your business, but also rapidly tell the negative side – a disappointing product or a bad dining or take-out experience.
To prevent negative publicity, make sure your guest service policies are reviewed and are implemented to the highest degree. Royalty service! Respond quickly to any incident, question or complaint so that customer frustration doesn’t accelerate to the point of taking the issue to the Internet.
Regularly monitor the various social media search engines to find out if anyone's talking about you. Don't think you're too small or geographically remote to be talked about positively and negatively.
The most important lesson is this - when dealing with a guest, it’s not what it will cost your restaurant now, it’s the embarrassing negative publicity and lost business it may cost you later.