An upmarket restaurant in Manchester recently responded to a particularly bad review on TripAdvisor by calling the hen party “ugly”, “cheap chav trash”, “the worst, most vile people to ever grace our restaurant” adding “we pity the groom”.
The reviewer Melissa Grogan-Morgan had complained that her group was split between two tables, fresh starters were not made available for latecomers and the manager had a “terrible attitude” despite the group spending £600 at the venue.
The munchers, the anonymous waiter continued, “wouldn’t know fine dining if it slapped them in their ugly faces! Best thing ever is that they won’t return!”
It was hardly the most mature or professional of responses, but what may have been a hot-headed impulsive moment has come back to bite the restaurant in the ass, as now a flood of other one-star reviews of the restaurant on TripAdvisor have seen its rating plummet.
It’s hard to feel sorry for the owners of this particular restaurant after those particularly bitter and nasty comments. Especially as most of the new reviews lament the restaurants snooty staff.
But you don’t have to be the Brain of Britain to know that unsatisfied customers using social media and review sites to rant about poor service should be appeased not attacked, regardless of how you really feel. A disgruntled customer can quickly become a happy repeat customer with a simple apology and a good will gesture.
I’m 8 months pregnant and had recently gone through a phase of craving cinnamon buns; I had found one in a local bakery chain and couldn’t wait to get back to the office to devour it, but I was left super disappointed to find that it was the driest, stalest bun that ever was. I vowed never to go back there again and tweeted them immediately about my disappointment. Within half an hour they tweeted me back with an apology and the offer of a free coffee and cinnamon bun the next time I was in the area. The next day I went in to claim my free bun and all was well again in the world. That’s all it took to appease me.
It really takes very little to redeem a company back into the good graces of disgruntled customers, but so many businesses still get customer service totally wrong when it comes to responding to criticism. Social media is not great for driving sales for small businesses but it is great for communicating directly with your customers, particularly if they are not happy about something.
And it’s not just small businesses that get it wrong! The recent controversy surrounding Dolce & Gabanna and their comments during an interview about ‘gay couples adopting and synthetic babies’ triggered a huge backlash for the brand which resulted in a boycott spearheaded by none other than Elton John. No matter how big or small your organisation is, you simply have to watch what you say and keep your opinions to yourself to avoid alienating or offending people. What made it worse was that the designers refused to apologise as did the restaurant in Manchester.
The restaurant has now shut down their Twitter and Facebook accounts but you can bet any money that their business was hit financially as a consequence.
Online slagging matches do no one – customers or companies – any favours. So remember to bite your tongue, be professional and take the high road.
5 Customer Service Tips for Small Businesses
1. Every customer deserves a response. Listen to your customers and respond positively no matter what they are saying.
2. Remember that your response to one person will be seen by countless others so don’t be reactive.
3. Respond in real time no longer than half an hour after a comment has been left.
4. Embrace the negative feedback and respond with grace, kindness and humour.
5. Make sure that everyone in your business is aware of your customer service ethos.