Customers are known to take to social media when they have a problem with a brand, and that includes restaurants. No matter their issue—whether it’s an off taste of a particular dish or a wobbling table at which they’re eating—many will post about it on social media or online review sites. The near-constant seeking and sharing of information is why it’s important for operators to gain control of the customer experience as much as possible.
Even as foodservice establishments become more social media-savvy, providing information and images on their own platforms and engaging and following customers, operators should be thinking holistically about how their offerings and experience will be perceived. Anticipating vulnerabilities has always been a part of successful customer interactions, but it’s even more crucial when guest impressions go wider and longer than ever before in a digital way. Here are a few ways social media can make or break a foodservice brand, and how operators can prevent gaining a bad reputation.
1) Make: All the likes
The upside of social media is the opportunity for people to share positive images and comments about places they visit. Recognizing the influence of Instagram photos and stories, Facebook Live and Snapchat, some operators are even adapting menu trends based on social media potential, according to Technomic’s Take: 7 Key Trends for 2019.
Beyond what’s offered on the menu, an enjoyable experience is also good fodder for social media. Patrons often share their impressions, including everything from the cleanliness to the service and the location and comfort of seating, both in their own posts and as part of reviews shared to a foodservice facility’s site or a third-party review platform, such as Google. If customers have a good time, they’re likely to let people know.
2) Break: Cheers ... and jeers
The downside of customers posting about their experiences constantly is that while it’s a great way to share information about a good time, social media is a public and wide-reaching forum for sharing less-than-satisfactory experiences, too. Think about this new math: If a customer has a bad experience and posts about it to, say, 400 followers, those followers can also share that post. This domino effect can lead to thousands of people reading about a bad experience, all in just a few hours. No operator wants to start the day seeing that their facility has gone viral for a bad reason.
In short, social media platforms can break a brand as much as they can make it, based on the patrons’ experiences.
3) Plan for the whole experience
Just as beautiful, Instagrammable food or a colorful, splashy drink can garner a lot of attention, every part of the dining experience is an opportunity for a pro or a con in the guest’s mind, and it in turn can be picked apart on social media.
For example, the table itself may be just as important as the food and drinks served on it. A survey conducted by YouGov in partnership with FLAT Tech found that 56% of customers would consider not returning to a restaurant if a wobbly table spoiled their experience. And that can be confirmed in just a few seconds on Twitter: A quick search for the phrase “wobbly table” shows just how common the conversation of table neglect is becoming. While wobble tables are a common problem in restaurants, the phenomenon is just as important to prevent in noncommercial foodservice.
Beyond the off-kilter surface that can cause drink spills and more, the ways a foodservice establishment can attempt to fix a wobbly table can also lead to reputation issues. Take, for instance, using a napkin or a few sugar packets hastily stuffed under a table leg. Appearance is everything, from the plate to the floor, and this approach can look sloppy. Customers can see that and, despite every other aspect of their service being great, fixate on how it looks to have what may look like garbage or debris holding up their table. That’s not a good look. Thankfully, there’s an easy fix.
4) Proactively protect the brand
Rather than take their chances to see if a wobbly table or chair has caused a discontent guest to take to social media to vent their frustration or disappointment, foodservice establishments should be proactive in stabilizing and aligning tables and chairs to prevent unnecessary complaints and messes.
Simply using a self-stabilizing FLAT table base or FLAT Equalizers can save headache-causing, revenue-impacting social media negativity later on. Shift the focus for more likes—and more repeat visits.
In addition to making corrections and changes in the moment, it’s also important for foodservice operators to remember to be continually present on social media. Listen to customers when they tweet, post or comment on their experience and interact with them to mitigate any dissatisfaction. Connections matter—both in the front of the house and in front of the screen.
To learn more about how fixing issues related to the guest experience, including wobbly tables, can protect a foodservice brand, visit flattech.com.