October 2018 musing: Good service, bad service & the social media

“Apples and Lemons” came about in the year 2000, long before many of the businesses popped up in this city. It focuses on service open to the public: hotels, restaurants, stores, bars, etc. It awards apples for good service, mentioning the establishment, and hurls lemons to bad ones, hiding them behind blind items. It gets the “transgressors” to straighten up their act.

It was all printed then. Today, via the social media, it gets easier to reach a wide audience, including those “awarded” with the sweet and dreaded fruit. How the posts are managed can identify the professional and the unprofessional.

Not everyday is a good day. True. That applies to customers as well. Do not presume everyone who comes thru the door is in a good mood. It’s just too bad if both parties are having a bad day. Do you expect a “hangry” patron to be forgiving of bad service?

If someone you know posts a negative review on social media about your business’ service or product, how should you react and act?


Rob Bradshaw Cathay Pacific country manager

One of the best replies came from Rob Bradshaw, the Philippine country manager of Cathay Pacific.

“Things go wrong, some completely beyond the control of the airline. We fix it quickly. Don’t ask questions, don’t push back, really fix it, and figure out what went wrong. It’s how you responded that people will remember. We don’t have anything to fear about the exposure in social media. If something goes wrong, and it’s catalogued and captured, it is an opportunity to improve because we wouldn’t have wanted that to happen in the first place. The fact that it has happened gives us good information to be able to change it and fix for next time.”

Some people don’t react the same way though. Some transgressors will play the victim and engage the poster with sarcastic remarks rather than address the problem. It’s like digging a deeper hole, and an apology will prove ineffective after a lengthy tirade.


Nikki Honasan of the “Hoy, Panga!” restaurant chain nationwide shared, “In this day & age social media has become a tool for most to express their views. I’ve come across my fair share of negative reviews about our restaurant, especially when we were just starting. My natural immediate reaction would always be of disappointment, and at the same time curiosity. I’d be curious to know how that negative review came about. So it doesn’t really matter what my initial reaction is, what matters is what my response would be. In this case I always respond by asking how we could make their experience better next time, and in cases where an apology is due, then I give it. I also investigate on our side of things, because it is a fact that some people use social media to abuse others’ good graces. Bottom line is, respond rather than react, and investigate.”


Nikki Honasan of Hoy, Panga!


Blue Post Group of restaurants’ Anthony Ang responded, “Every feedback, may it be good or bad, we make sure to acknowledge immediately. The feedbacks are also our form of evaluations to the quality of our products and service. We learn and improve through this.”


Anthony Ang of Blue Post Group of restaurants


Lena Benedicto, who runs several restaurants since 1986 including Golden Brown and Rekado, said, “We talk to our staff and investigate what happened. We reach out to the person to apologize and invite them back in the restaurant for a free meal to try and make up for it.”


Lena Benedicto of Golden Brown restaurants


Carlo Lorenzana of Sumo Sam, Munchtown, La Cabrera and Bar Pintxos, remarked, “Our first step is to speak with the person and apologize, offer reparations. Simultaneously, we hear out our people to validate if there were lapses on our part. We get back to the client with our findings, if warranted. Lesson/experience is documented for future reference.”


Carlo Lorenzana of Sumo Sam, La Cabrera, and Munchtown


In any service-oriented establishment the rule is: if the service sucks, fix it. Never blame the victim.

Professionalism, some people have it, some don’t.

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