Last week, I saw a speech that Gary Vaynerchuk gave to a bunch of RE/MAX realtors on the topic of social media engagement and it was quite awesome. Here’s the video if you care to watch it:
As a general rule, we enjoy Marlow’s. They have a few locations near us, good food, and solid service. Tonight we took our babysitter out there for her birthday, but the evening had a few minor issues, and I think they could really benefit from having more of a “Thank You” approach to business.
No birthday desserts
We made sure to mention that today was our babysitter’s birthday, because we knew that Marlow’s did the little free cupcake dessert like most restaurants. Nope, not anymore. ”Some people lie about it being their birthday, so we can’t do that anymore.” Uh-oh. Really? Did that surprise them? Of course some people will lie about it — that’s why you give them a cheap cupcake and not a free steak. We had three adults and two kids, with a total bill of $78, and they’re concerned that they might give away a $3 dessert that isn’t legit?
While you certainly need to watch out for people taking advantage of you, this just seemed really shallow. Companies that do customer service the right away (like Zappos) just focus on treating their customers like rock stars, and don’t worry so much about potentially giving up $3 every now and then.
My food was SLOW
It was remarkable. The other four people in our party got their food fairly quickly, but I didn’t. So I waited. And waited. And waited. We’re guessing it was 10-12 minutes before my food arrived, which is crazy for a place like that, but things happen. However, I still don’t know what happened. I got a quick “sorry ’bout that” when they brought it, and that was it. It was clear they didn’t care about the issue a single bit. A much better approach would have been like what Scott Stratten had happen at a hotel a few years ago; he had a very bad breakfast, but they apologized and explained the problem and he was much happier as a result. Here’s his full write-up of that experience.
I decided not to press the the issue with them, just to see how they’d handle it. Simply put, they didn’t. No apology from anyone, no deduction on our bill.
(Speaking of the bill – $2.50 each for kid’s drinks? Wow!)
With those in mind, I did a little digging when I got home. They’re pretty solid on Twitter (@MarlowsTavern), so I poked around for a while. The content they push out is solid, but their conversation skills are weak. They reply to some comments, but it appears to be at random. Just in the past week:
- Jennifer asked whether a dish at Marlow’s was gluten free. A few days later, she got a reply from them — yes! Excellent. So she replied back asking if they had a gluten free menu, or how they should request gluten free products. Crickets…
- Robbie tweeted that he was taking his wife to Marlow’s for her birthday. A quick “congrats” would have been nice, but they simply let it go without comment…
- Another user tweeted to rave about their Sunday buffet. Again, no reply.
Seriously, businesses need to build true fans to be successful and here are people actively telling their world about your restaurant — and you ignore them?
Google Place Pages
How about their Google Place pages? They have a handful of locations, so I just checked out a few of them. I found these two gems rather quickly:
The response from Marlow’s, as expected, was silence.
Needless to say, they’re not on Google+ yet. Not that I can really fault them for that (it’s new, smaller than Facebook/Twitter, etc), but people are already talking about them on there…
Since they’ll probably be reading this, I’ll toss in a few suggested website tweaks as a bonus. Their website is really pretty solid (many restaurants have dreadfully awful sites), but it could use some adjustments:
- On your front page, you have a link to your “to-go” menu. Seems like people might often be in the car when they call for that. And the menu is a PDF?
- In the footer, “copyright 2007″.
- Also in the footer is the “designed by” garbage. Don’t leave that on there.
- Your canonicalization is a bit messed up.
- “Follow us on Facebook”. Don’t you “follow” people on Twitter and “like” them on Facebook? People get confused enough, so don’t switch them up for no good reason. I’ve never liked the words “follow us” anyhow, because it implies that “you should follow us and we’ll send you a bunch of crap”. I’m glad the Twitter widget (which you have on your site) says “Join the conversation” instead, as that sounds much better.
- Your Entertainment page encourages people to visit you on MySpace, which you haven’t updated in about two years. Can’t blame you for the lack of updates, but you should probably remove that link.
It just takes time
Social media can be difficult for some businesses. If you sell toilet plungers, it’ll take some work to come up with a creative campaign. For restaurants, though, it’s dead simple. Just put in the effort, connect with your patrons, and prove that you really care about them. I should also mention that their Facebook pages (like this one) seem to be managed quite well, so they’re not totally ignoring everyone.
At the end of the day, these weren’t killer problems for Marlow’s. We certainly think less of them, no doubt, but we’ll be back eventually — they’ll just be a little bit lower on the list.