Good Businesses Have Bad Moments. Cut Them A Little Slack.

No Business Is Absolutely Perfect.

As much as any small business wants to deliver a perfect customer experience during each and every interaction, it will slip up. Perhaps (and hopefully) not often will that happen, but it will happen.

For example:

  • The local coffee shop’s brew won’t be piping hot.
  • Your veterinarian will be behind schedule and you’ll wait longer than you care to for Fido’s appointment.
  • The Mediterranean restaurant down the street will forget to serve your salad dressing on the side.
  • Before she wraps the bracelet you bought for your mom, the cashier at the gift shop downtown will forget to remove the price tag.

Honest, unintentional, few-and-far-between mistakes happen. They’re unfortunate and can inconvenience you, yes. Are they something to get upset about enough to warrant slamming a business on social media? I say, probably not.

But many people see things differently. They jump to criticize and discredit for the smallest measure of imperfection. And sometimes they don’t even explain why they’re dissatisfied.

Just recently, one of my own Facebook friends blasted a status update calling out a local coffee shop. Her remark…“Was at [name of café] this morning. Very disappointing.”

That was it.

She tagged the business’s Facebook page in her post, but didn’t post directly on the page. Because of the way she went about mentioning the business and because she and the business owner aren’t friends on Facebook, the business owner had no way of responding on the platform. She had no way of asking why the customer had a bad experience. She had no way of asking the customer if they could talk about it offline. She had no way of asking the customer how she could make it right.

So there it was. Her business was publicly shamed for no specific reason and with no direct way to respond.

Coincidentally, I had a meeting at that coffee shop the same morning. My experience was wonderful—as usual. And so, as a fellow small business owner and regularly satisfied customer, I felt it my duty to come to the rescue (well, as best I could anyway) by commenting on my friend’s post to share my positive experience at the café that day.

My comment probably didn’t undo much of the damage, but by seeing similar comments by others posted after mine, I’d like to think it helped restore at least a little bit of public favor for that small business.

It’s Better To Pick Our Battles On Social Media.

Just as people aren’t perfect, neither are businesses. They’re owned and staffed by imperfect humans who will try their very best, but who will sometimes fall short.

Sure, negative remarks on social media about a business’s performance are sometimes justified—particularly if a customer has had repeat bad experiences that weren’t addressed when brought to the owner’s attention. But shouldn’t every business have an opportunity to find out how they failed a customer and how they can set things right?

As customers ourselves, we need to remember that. When we have a lackluster experience, we don’t do ourselves any favors by venting for the sake of simply getting it off our chests. What will improve our future visits to businesses that have disappointed us in some way is to start an honest dialogue with owners and managers to explain why we’re unhappy and what we would like them to do differently.

Simple. Sensible. And something about which we should remind the overzealous business critics in our social media networks. After all, you and I never know when they might turn on us for the slightest slip.

How has your business (or others that you frequently visit) been bitten by unjustly harsh social media commentary? How have you handled it?

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