You may have seen the furore that erupted on social media after Ekim Burger owner Mike Duffy posted a customer’s private message on his public Facebook page.
In a message sent to Duffy’s private inbox, the customer gently implied that the Wellington burger bar gave her son food poisoning. In response, Duffy screencapped the message and reposted it on his page with a scorching takedown. In the same post, he went on to complain about various other kinds of customers, taking a swing at “middle class no idea house wives,” “pi***d-up office jocks,” “dimwitted parents” and more.
The message sent to Ekim Burgers. Source: Facebook
He later posted a sort of explanation for his behaviour, asking, “Is it no longer ok to drink gin for breakfast and rant meaningless sh** on Facebook?”
Facebook users took to Ekim Burger’s page to berate Duffy, saying he was being overly aggressive and unreasonable.
Since the event first unfolded, Duffy has changed his profile picture to a quote by Mark Twain, which says, “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”
As well as this, someone with access to the Facebook page – apparently not Duffy himself – changed the phone number listed to McDonald’s phone number.
Thompson says Duffy’s exchange with McDonald’s shows he’s enjoying the attention his outburst has brought to his business.
“The viral and public nature of social media equalises the playing field of ‘the customer is always right’ with a business’s right to tell their side of the story,” Thompson says.
“It is okay - in fact good - for businesses to show emotion. However for all those doing it right, there are a few doing it very wrong.”
She says the telling thing about the incident is that people were generally not upset about the possible food poisoning.
“What people got up in arms about was the rude treatment of a customer; that he violated a customer’s privacy, and he was mean and disrespectful. People will forgive mistakes but not rudeness,” Thompson says.
Thompson, who runs Socialites, a social media agency for businesses, offers tips on social media dos and don’ts for businesses in a Q&A below.
What is the right way to respond to customers' concerns on social media?
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. If there was a problem you weren’t aware of (true or false), at least the comment brings it to your attention. Plus you get the added benefit of being able to rectify any problems and/or set the record straight in public, in front of your community of fans. People on social media will give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you are honest, upfront and take responsibility.
Is the saying, "The customer is always right," still applicable in the internet age?
I reckon it’s now “The customer always has the right to be heard.” Sometimes, the customer is wrong. This is why building a loyal social media community is so important. Because they will often stand up for you if the customer does get it wrong. Even in the Ekim case, there are people standing up for the food… just not many supporting his disrespectful attitude and behaviour.
From a business’ perspective, do you think it's fair people are giving Ekim burgers one-star ratings having never eaten there?
This one is interesting. It shows clearly that people use ratings to assess more than just the food. They are evaluating the whole company and don’t necessarily need to have been there to do this.
What are some of the dos and don'ts businesses should adhere to on social media?
- Don’t react in the heat of the moment. Do: Take a deep breath first, think about possible reactions to your post, and try take emotion out of it.
- Don’t lie or pass the buck. You will get caught. Do: If you are in the wrong, then own up quickly and apologise. People will forgive mistakes, but not being lied to.
- Time is critical. Don’t ignore comments or ‘wait to run past legal.’ Even if you don’t have all the facts, it’s better to say something to show you have heard them rather than waiting. For example “So sorry you had that experience. I have the team looking into it now and will get back to you asap.” And of course (unless you really are a douchebag), you are still sorry they had a bad experience, even if it’s not your fault.
- And finally, don’t ever drink and tweet!