Why publicans need to connect

A friend of ours recently posted a status update on Facebook saying that a pub we follow on Twitter had ruined a special day — she’d been kept waiting for hours for food, the staff had been rude, and that no-one had apologised. She was never going there again. Her many Facebook friends piled in to sympathise and join her nascent boycott.

For once, though, we were able to do something about it: we dropped the pub a line to pass on the feedback.

Because the publican in question had previously acted like a human being, engaging us in conversation and answering our questions, we knew that our contact would be taken in the spirit it was intended.

Sure enough, an email arrived with a detailed explanation of what had caused the problem, their plans to deal with it, and a sincere apology. We were able to pass that on to our friend and, hopefully, convince her to give the pub (which seems, generally, to be doing all the right things) a second chance.

What went wrong really did go wrong, and the pub needs to look at why the explanation and apology we got wasn’t given to our friend on the day but, nonetheless, this shows why it is worth businesses investing time in social media and that it pays to really connect with people.

8 thoughts on “Why publicans need to connect”

  1. Good question. She complained on the day which, as we understand it, is what prompted the staff to be rude/dismissive. She asked outright for an apology and they wouldn’t give her one. From her point of view (not a beer geek and not ‘friends’ with pubs, just a customer of them) she had spoken to the management (actually junior staff covering the shift) and got what she took as a pretty clear “get knotted, who cares”.

    It was only because we knew that this was out of character for the pub in question that we felt inclined to step in.

  2. I think Simon nailed it… having been on the service side of hospitality for many years, then moving over to my now day job, I am especially concerned that people don’t complain, or comment, or help us improve. I actually like people to challenge me, help me improve my operations and ultimately be honest with me toward what we do.

    I find that I have to go and find the comments now, that people are far more inclined to use FB and Twitter to be disgruntled than actually inform the parties concerned.

    reading Bailey’s comment tho, makes you wonder… what is happening to the pub, to service in general… Worse when coming back from the US or Europe, typically service (even in Toronado) is better than places here. I guess it’s vested interests, and the old chestnut – Giving a Crap. I guess I am lucky, a number of free houses around here makes for interesting pubs – and no, I don’t know all the landlords personally – but in general the service is pretty good. I do so wish that pubs were given the chance to be really good, allowing monies to be invested in training, staff actually caring in greater terms about their industry.

    The whole picture seems to be a cascading fail, but the member of staff who said the above comments, I expect would have been reprimanded, or perhaps p45’d.

    I read this, this morning: http://moderndaymerrick.blogspot.com/2011/11/are-beer-bars-hurting-craft-beer.html

    All in all, I think this is a issue that is greater than us – I guess some sort of greater movement in conciousness and the service equation beyond the 21 miles of water out of my window (looking at France) that perhaps highlights the gaps.

  3. Resorting to Facebook, Twitter or online review websites to complain is sometimes prompted by a feeling of helplessness. If you’ve sensed irritation/aggression in the people serving you in the pub, it’s easy to understand why you might not feel inclined to have a confrontation there and then, but you still feel angry and upset.

    In this case, the real problem does seem to have rested with staff who weren’t able to deal with the crisis by apologising. When I was a waiter, many years ago, day one of my training was on grovelling/apologising/offering to knock things off the bill until the situation was defused. You can’t be proud in a service role, sadly, but you can be proud of your professionalism.

  4. Having a social media presence is an absolute must these days in my opinion, if for no other reason than to show what you had on that day, be that beer, food or entertainment.
    It just gives folk that feeling of approachability too. As you’ve said some folks just haven’t got the confidence to complain face to face and one bad visit could lose a customer/s for ever.

  5. This is an interesting one. Given the situation your friend was in, I’m not sure I would have done anything either. I know they tried to get there point across ‘in the moment’ and the success of this is always going to depend on the recipient. But as someone who is fairly confident with Twitter and FB I’m still not confident to give ‘real’ feedback when an experience is negative.
    This is a personal trait of course, but I still don’t feel comfortable trying to make a point in 140 characters. I also worry about the wider perception if I communicate a negative view point. An email would suit me, personal and scope for a full explanation, but not sure I would go to the trouble unless it was a grave situation. Well done for stepping in all the same… this situation just needed a mediator. Don’t they all?

  6. Some businesses are yet to realise that it’s not the customer’s responsibility to step up and be assertive, it’s *their* responsibility to be approachable.

    We rarely complain in situ, unless we’ve had strong signals that it’ll be taken in the spirit intended. We didn’t complain about this, for example — we’ve just never been back!

  7. Just had a read of Bobgate. Some insightful comments from the likes of Scoop et al and nothing I can add, but to say I agree with your approach in both cases. I tend to be a “I won’t be going back there” kinda guy and then draw a line under it unless asked directly if I would recommend a place. As you say though, if I felt that the management were open to feedback then I would discuss it with them at the time. In the case of the Germans in your other post, I think they did well to soak it up and move on, rather than become Bob fodder.

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