Epic Social Media Fail - Atlanta Restaurant Calls Customer B***ch on Facebook

This week, learn from this crash-and-burn social media mistake - an Atlanta restaurant called Boners BBQ wrote profanity-laced Twitter and Facebook posts directly naming a specific customer, Stephanie S., after she apparently did not leave a tip (the customer said she did), and also left a negative review on Yelp. Here's the original post (pardon the language). Boners also posted a photo of Stephanie so people would know her identity. Wow.

Image: Huffington Post/Facebook.

The company has posted several apologies on its Facebook page, but customers continue to visit Yelp to post in support of this customer - calling out Boners BBQ for bullying and a lack of professionalism. For a restaurant that appears to be struggling anyhow - their original excuse for this behavior was that employees have been working without pay and the missing tip was the last straw - this is not going to help.

What did restaurant do in this situation? 

The posted apologies were a step in the right direction. I hope they have also taken the time to chat with Stephanie S. directly and personally apologize to her. This Facebook Post is a good one:

Image: Huffington Post/Facebook.

This one is a little less on the mark:

Image: Facebook.

Boners is just going to have to put up with reaction to their epic social media fail for as long as it takes. They should continue to apologize and eat crow until people are all complained out.

The owners of this business should also learn from this experience and institute a few rules and regulations for their social media content.

So what's our takeaway?

The takeaway here for your business is that Boners is an organization in dire need of a social media policy. If you don't have a few rules for your own accounts, here's what I'd recommend for any business with a public social media presence:
  • First and foremost - NO bullying or aggressive language.
  • Second - NO profanity. 
  • Third - protect customer privacy - don't name customers unless replying to their post or they authorize it.
  • Fourth - react to complaints with empathy and respect.
  • Fifth - posts should be positive, engaging, relevant, and actionable. If a post doesn't pass this test, then it shouldn't be published. Boners created this whole firestorm themselves with their own post. If they'd just left the negative review alone, they wouldn't be making the news in Iraq.
  • Finally, seriously read and consider each negative review. In this case, complaints included Stephanie's opinions that dishes arrived cold, and that some of the preparation was not up to snuff. These problems are solvable for most restaurants and Boners should concentrate on that. Stephanie did praise the flavor of several dishes - strengths on which the restaurant can capitalize. 

Your customers are your lifeblood. A loyal customer isn't your right, it's someone you earn. Learn from reviews and respond with a measured approach if you feel they are inaccurate. Please don't abuse the people who post them - negative feedback helps you identify problems and fix them.

Words of the week: 

Honor your customers' privacy, respect their opinions, and just be decent human beings. Let's all resolve in 2012 not to repeat this kind of thing.

Need help crafting your social media policy? Let me know. I can help.

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