Monday, January 09, 2012

The threat of a tweet

Ewww!
All was going to do was tweet “Ewww!” with a photo. Nothing more needed to be said. You probably would have looked and seen that little ugly hair on my plate.

I had no intention of naming the neighborhood eatery where we were having our weekend brunch. And then, just as I was snapping the photo and my husband said “Don’t tweet it! You don’t have to tweet everything, you know.” Or something to that effect, I was caught smartphone-handed by the restaurant manager. I had just snapped a pic and he seemed to have heard every, every word except for the “I had no intention…” part.

So, with the sweat beading down his brow, he apologized profusely, offered to make me a new plate and said he would remove the charge from the bill. I declined on his offer for a replacement – I had already eaten half my meal and I was full. Besides, I had lost my appetite. Wouldn’t you.

The poor guy was so nervous. He kept reassuring me that hair on plates wasn’t a regular occurrence. I could see the threat of a tweet was adding a whole other layer to sweating bullets. I was empathetic, let him know I understood and seemed quite nonchalant about the incident.

When we were done our meal, he returned with the bill another apology and four $5-off gift certificates for our next visit. I will go back and I won’t share the name of the restaurant.

I’m not so sure the restaurant manager would have been as nervous if I didn’t have a smartphone or discuss Twitter in his presence. I couldn’t help but think about the negative impact of Twitter (and other social media channels in general) in customer service. Sure I would have told some friends I found a hair in my eggs at restaurant X but I wouldn’t have had a photo, told them as quickly or seen it spread to the extent it could have today.   I’m not convinced he would have given us $20 in gift certificates either, do you?

Twitter bird icon credit: Bruno Maia, IconTexto

13 comments:

  1. Well, at the very least the owner was 'twitter savvy' enough to recognize a potential issue when he saw one (or saw you for that matter...) so kudos to him. I have used twitter to let hotels know of an issue - and received prompt attention/response.

    All to say, customer service is well served by twitter...

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  2. Definitely! I think any service-oriented business not savvy enough to understand the impact of social media today is taking a big risk. I suspect the restaurant manager would have been equally concerned and apologetic but he may not have come across as nervously even a year or two ago.

    By the same token, I don't like using my knowledge of social media to demand and expect a higher level of service than the average consumer.

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  3. A savvy business understands how social media works. I had the worst home tech issues until I tweeted to Rogers. 3 months with our own private CS agent & a 4 figure refund on our bill later, we are happy. Would never have happened without Twitter. Kudos to Rogers for "getting it". As did your restaurant manager. Love it.

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  4. I love the power of social media like Twitter & FB to hold businesses accountable. In the scenario you describe I think you did the right thing and the best thing but it's bigger businesses that don't seem to care to go the extra mile that deserve the bad 'press'.

    We live in a different world now. Before an unhappy customer would share their bad experience with an average of 10 ppl. Now it can go viral in just a few minutes!

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  5. Anonymous10:09 am

    Shit happens. Have you never inadvertently ended up with a hair in food that you prepared? I don't blame the manager for being stressed about the prospect of having the issue tweeted to the world. The crowd mentality can be brutal and this non-issue could have been blown way out of proportion. Your husband was completely correct, "you don't have to tweet everything."

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  6. @Daly Beauty I think all businesses will need to be more savvy in order to survive going forward. Rogers was one of the first big Canadian companies to offer customer service on Twitter. I know most of their social media team and they do "get it". Glad they were able to help you resolve the issue. (Discl. they're a long-term sponsor of PodCamp Toronto and I'm a lead organizer of the event.)

    @Kelly, it's often easier for smaller businesses to experiment and get involved in social media because they are more agile and have fewer layers of management. I disagree that big businesses don't get it. There are a lot that do and others that don't, regardless of business size. I love seeing small businesses that do get it. I also realize smaller businesses may be more at risk by not understanding social media and have the most to gain by taking it seriously.

    @Anonymous I agree, hair in food can happen anywhere to anyone. Believe me, I have lots of it and I know. ;) However, I think you've missed the point. I don't tweet everything and I had never planned on tweeting anything about the restaurant, only the photo with the text "Ewww!". Since I published this blog post, I've been asked to identify the restaurant and I've refused. BTW, Your comment would have more impact if you'd post your identity.

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  7. We were once eating at a restaurant when a mouse ran right across from us. When we pointed it out the waitress she was completely unapologetic and said "All restaurants have mice". I have had my share off icky restaurant situations and bad customer service and haven't usually complained publicly via social media. But some things - including mice - are unacceptable and I greatly appreciate the ability of social media to give some outlet of power to consumers.

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  8. Social media has made reputation management more difficult for businesses and individuals, given how damaging a negative tweet or Facebook post could be.

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  9. Twitter can be a powerful tool when you it's looked after. That's an awesome response you got.

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  10. nowadays, I 'm more active in twitter than FB.. since most of my friends use twitter too and in twitter I won't find any stupid game request..

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  11. Undeniable what social media can do for or against a commercial establishment, particularly a dining place.

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  12. Okay, first of all....GROSS!!

    And no, I do not think he would've given you anything. He did a complete 180 from the time you informed him until he overheard your Twitter comment.

    Twitter to be used for good or evil??? You be the judge.

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  13. I'm glad he recognized the threat and cared enough to keep you as a customer. Thanks for stopping by Posed Perfection last week and leaving me a sweet comment. I hope you'll visit again soon. Have a great week!
    Blessings,
    Nici

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