How does social media impact your Customer Service?
Recently, I ordered carry-out from a local Mexican restaurant. The customer service wasn’t the best. I want to show you the impact of social media as a result of my poor experience.
Before the days of social media, if you were happy with what happened at an establishment, you might tell 2 people. If you were unhappy, you might tell 10 people. Your circle of influence wasn’t that large. If you were really unhappy, the time frame of your sharing might be longer, so the number might rise to 20 or 30 people who heard about your bad experience. Once social media came around, that number that you reach is as broad as your knowledge of how to post a review about a business on the variety of social outlets where they can be found, or haven’t found yet.
Let’s go back to my sad story. Early this year I chose to go gluten free on the advice of my homeopath. That means that I avoid wheat, barley and rye. I have found that I do react negatively if I ingest one of those. There is this thing called cross-contamination where even if I don’t actually eat it, if it touches the food I do eat, it can cause me distress as well.
All of that back story to say this – I ordered enchiladas to go (corn doesn’t affect me). I got to the restaurant. I gave them my order number. The lady checked my ticket. There was only one order waiting. She grabbed it and bagged up my chilies, chips and salsa, and my dinners. I paid my bill and left. (Notice I did not check inside the container.)
When I got home, 20 minutes later, I unpacked my order, opened the container and saw burritos. (Made with flour tortillas – flour is bad for me!) I called the restaurant. They immediately knew who I was because I got another persons order that was very similar – two meals, chips and salsa. They told me I was welcome to come back to get my order. I said, I would prefer not to drive round trip another 40 minutes. I asked if they would provide a credit the next time I was in. The young man told me “We can’t give you a credit, because you would get free food.” I told the young man, I would probably not come back – EVER.
I posted in a Facebook group called What’s Happening in Elgin. I gave them a negative review on Yelp and Google. I am writing about it here on my blog and will share this on Pinterest, Facebook, G+, and LinkedIn.
Now, here are my observations.
- People can be rude and crude. You may use foul language in person, but it should not be used to make a point in a public forum. You never know who is going to read your post. If you don’t care how you sound to others, that is fine, but it can come back to bite you in the behind. Would you want your grandmother to read what you wrote?
- People stick up for the underdog – not always seeing both sides of a story.
- Arguing on social media never usually works out. If someone complains in a public forum and you are the business, you should always take it off-line as soon as possible. You can respond by saying, please call me at xx number at your earliest convenience, I would like to resolve this matter.
- There may be a cultural difference or a generational difference between how people perceive good customer service or good will. Many of the people in the Facebook thread thought that it was totally my fault for not checking my bag before I left OR the offer to come back and get my original meal was dealing with the situation properly. The fact that I should have been overjoyed at the chance to drive back to pick up my meal was what they considered good customer. Would they have made me a fresh meal or would I have been given the original meal (which by the time I got back home the second time would have been over an hour old).
- If you “react”, wait before you post. Apparently the owner’s wife posted a negative comment in the thread, changed her mind and deleted it, but not before someone got a screen shot and reposted it. AND refer to point #3.
- Sometimes, apologizing is all that it takes to right a wrong. While the owner of the business never actually apologized, the owner of the sister business sent me a private message. Refer to #3 above. I responded to her as soon as I saw the message, assuring her, that her facility was not in question. While this did not make up for the fact that I never heard from the business itself, it gives me faith that some people do pay attention to social media and what it can do to their business. Perhaps if I hear from the actual business owner, I might go in and take down my reviews.
- Posting an opinion on social media does not mean you are trying to close a business down. Remember my comment from earlier about telling 10 people if you are upset? Now, posting to social media about your experiences is the norm. Peer recommendations fuel whether you are going to use a product or service. Peer recommendations get you everything from a new dog groomer to a Mexican restaurant. Many people ask how to do things, where to find things, sell items, or buy items. This is evidenced in the decline of classified advertising in newspapers. When was the last time you bought an item because of a commercial you saw? When was the last time you ate at a restaurant because you saw that a friend of yours had checked-in. The power of social media to drive people to a business is growing exponentially.
- People care. One person made the comment that this isn’t Chicago, no one cares about my reviews. I advise people all the time to check their reviews. If they have a negative review about their business, they need to work on getting others to add positive reviews. If you are not concerned about what is showing up on the internet, then you aren’t concerned about your business. Google reviews show up in Google searches and Facebook reviews show up in Bing searches. Yelp has a growing following. Reviews on platforms like Urban Spoon or other new platforms, may be out there and you don’t know what people are saying about you. My answer to that particular poster that no one cares about my review is – you don’t know who I know. You don’t know my level of influence – my Klout. You don’t know who might see my comment and change their mind based upon my words or someone else’s opinion of a business you are about to frequent. Just because the place is a small local establishment, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t care about what people are saying. “They don’t need you” as one poster says, may be right, but if enough of me’s get treated improperly, it will have an effect upon that business.
- One comment can go viral – be ready for damage control. Again, refer to #3 above. There was an incident a few years ago where a singer’s guitar was damaged by an airline. He wrote a song and posted it to YouTube. Over 15 million views later, this is a great example of what can happen if you don’t care of business. Now my small local post only garnered a fraction of that kind of response, but it is still a relatively significant number compared to when something goes right.
Does what people might say about your business on social media impact your customer service?
Overall, this was a good exercise to see how social media and customer service work together. As some of you know, I speak publicly. I tell a story about my experience with a “utility” provider. I tell this story at least once a month for the last 3 years. This story is going into my repertoire as an example of how to control your reputation. A little positive public relations can go a long way!