Old research, before social media, would tell us the effects of a diner having a bad experience. Basically, in a nutshell, it says that if someone has a bad time at your restaurant, they will tell 12 others. Those 12 others will tell 6 more that you are not good. Those 6 will tell 3 more, and those 3 will tell, on the average, 1.5 more.
What this says (if you add it all up) is that 625 people will think negatively about your place–whether they have eaten there or not. Imagine 625 people spreading the word that your place is lame. 624 of whom have not eaten there!
This is all pre-social media
We now know that the number is much greater. With Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Urban Spoon, and many other ways to dis places, the number is immeasurable.
And it doesn’t take much
Rude on the phone when you called to make a reservation. A clueless host. An indifferent waiter. The temperature was too cold or too hot in the restaurant. Waiter disappeared after the customer paid. Couldn’t get anyone to fill the water glass. Couldn’t get the check when they wanted to leave. Like I said, it doesn’t take much.
Take this story told to me by a couple of friends–both chefs–of an experience they had at a new ‘hot’ place in town: They were out with their mother, having a nice dinner, just the three of them, when a host came up to them and told them that they had to leave, that people were waiting for their table!
Wow, seriously?! Gee, I’m sorry we only spent $150 at your place, but give me a break. It is not my problem, it is your problem, so figure it out. And figure it out without kicking out paying customers. Customers, who now won’t only not come back, but who will tell everyone they know not to go there either.
Remember, these are two chefs in this ‘small’ town of ours. You never know who you are treating poorly, so I think it makes sense to never do this to anyone.
These three were having a nice time, and were ready to tell many others that this is a good place, but the opposite is what ended up happening. Instead, many now think this place is lame because of the mishandling of this particular experience.
This is not Eugene
This is just one small example of how easy it is to lose customers before they even step in to your place. Now, I am not really a fan of Yelp, or how anyone can say whatever they want and get an audience; but the bottom line is that it does and can make the difference between success and failure.
I actually do know that people will look to see ‘what yelp says about that place’ before deciding to eat there or not. So, be careful! Think about the choices you are making in regards to your customer. Every decision should be made from the place of, “is this choice going to affect my business negatively or positively? Start from there.