A Sydney mother has joined a growing number of Australians taking to social media to complain about businesses, after a café reportedly asked her to leave because she had her son’s pram with her.
Jessica Smith told the Daily Mail she was humiliated when the manager of Gnome Café in Surry Hills told her there was no room for her son’s pram inside the café.
“I found it offensive and unreasonable – if it was a bar I would understand,” Smith told the Daily Mail.
“You would think that mums would be bread and butter for a lot of these places.”
Smith took her outrage to Facebook, with her post attracting comments from supporters, who agreed with Smith that they would no longer frequent the Surry Hills café because of the incident.
(Image source: Daily Mail)
Gnome Café declined to comment when contacted by SmartCompany this morning, but according to the Daily Mail, the business responded to one comment on its Facebook page yesterday morning by saying children of all ages are welcome at the café but the store is too small to fit prams inside.
The comment is no longer available on the Gnome Café Facebook page.
Research from NewVoiceMedia this week reveals Smith is not the only one to vent her frustrations online, with more than half (53%) of Australians aged between 25 and 34 seeking revenge for bad customer experiences online, compared to 39% of UK consumers.
According to the research, 12% of Australians say social media platforms are the most effective way of resolving a problem with a company, compared to 7% of UK consumers.
But the figure is much higher—26%—for Gen Y consumers. This group nominated Facebook as their social media platform of choice when it comes to interacting with businesses.
Social media specialist Catriona Pollard told SmartCompany when faced with online complaints, businesses should be respectful and acknowledge the concerns of the person leaving the complaint.
But Pollard says the most important thing to do is to “take the complaint offline as soon as possible”.
“The big companies are doing that well by using their social media channels as a form of customer service,” says Pollard.
Pollard suggests responding to complaint by sending the person a private message or asking to speak to them over the phone.
“Remove it from the public domain as soon as possible,” she says. “You don’t want everyone else to see if it escalates or is resolved.”
While Pollard says it “might be annoying or upsetting” if a customer complains about your business online, business owners should “take the emotion out of the situation”.
“As we’ve seen in previous situations, if they get emotional or don’t deal with the situation properly, it can escalate further,” she says.
When it comes to handling queries from the media, which is increasingly reporting on social media complaints, Pollard says “no comment” may not be the best response.
“Unfortunately the words ‘no comment’ can sometimes imply you’re hiding something,” says Pollard, who advises a well-written statement explaining what happened and the reasons why, might be a better option.
In the case of the Sydney café, Pollard says it’s very likely the business had a legitimate reason not to allow prams inside, including occupational health and safety concerns.
But Pollard warns against posting a statement on Facebook or Twitter, which as in the case of a US hotel which attempted to charge guests $500 if they posted a negative review online, only made things worse.
“Don’t add fuel to the fire,” she says.