I work with several solopreneurs by helping them build their online communities in meaningful ways. I teach them how to harness Facebook, Twitter, and various other social media avenues and use them as tools to drive business and monitor their brands. I do not represent any of the Fortune 500 companies. Instead, I am very proud of the job I do helping small businesses level the playing field through social media. These are one of a kind brick and mortar salons, restaurants, wineries, mechanic shops, coffee houses….you get the idea. They take great pride in their work, and their businesses aren’t just about bread and butter: It is their heart and soul.
There is an unfortunate trend among some social media dabblers to tweet first and ask questions later. The days of asking to see the manager when you have a complaint has been replaced with reaching for the iPhone and tweeting directly from the dinner table. Don’t like your haircut? Try talking to the salon before giving that one star review on Twitter. You owe it to them to give them a chance to make things right before you go public with scrutiny.
One example: A woman who was unhappy with her haircut and color at a local salon, but waited a full three months before unleashing a rant on Yelp that was so scathing that it would scare anyone away. This woman never called the salon directly, and seemed to just appear out of no where. Her review is front and center on this salon’s Yelp page. It has brought this salon’s rating down a full 1.5 stars, which is quite a bit if you are struggling to keep your doors open.(more on Yelp and their dubious screening practice in another blog)
Another example: A couple who made reservations at a restaurant, and arrived 15 minutes early. It took them 20 minutes to be seated, and they complained about being seated 20 minutes late, even though they really only waited an additional 5 minutes from the reservation time. They similarly started the same mental time clock when they reported how long it took them to get served dinner…counted the 20 minutes waiting for their table as if they had already put in the order…Again, they never said anything during their time in the restaurant, and they never asked to speak to a manager, nor did they express any kind of displeasure to their server. They then ranted, not just to Yelp, but to Citysearch, Trip Advisor, and Urban Spoon.
As the Social Media Director to several smaller businesses, I see my role as cyber GM…I must patrol the social streams daily and alert business owners when something has gone awry. Often times, I can catch a disgruntled patron tweeting while they are still in a restaurant, and it takes a quick phone call to remedy. But I am shocked at how many times I will call a restaurant to let them know that “customer X didn’t like the clams” only to find out that the patron never told their server this information. Customers have a right to satisfactory service and quality products, but they also have a responsibility to go through the proper channels before taking their grievances public.
I’m not saying that it is necessary to add an extra star for the small mexican hole in the wall restaurant vs. the neighborhood Applebees, but I dare say that each mom and pop establishment can be just one bad Yelp review away from obscurity. So, please think twice before you press send on that scathing review, and make sure you’ve given them a chance to make it right before you go around publicly scrutinizing.
This is how I think it should go:
So please measure twice before you cut once. Think before you tweet, and tweet responsibly. Okay…stepping off my soapbox!!