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Two Pieces of Free Advice When Dealing with Dumbasses

I see a lot of questionable social media practices floating around out there and normally I don’t bother chiming in, but when I saw the hoopla around some tweets by @emmaspizza I felt really, really sad. I grew up in a large family (7 kids, 2 parents + newly immigrated relatives typically bunking with us). My parents were shopkeepers; we didn’t have a lot of luxuries in life. One of them, however, was pizza night at Emma’s. Back when Emma’s was on Huron Ave. and it was a basic pizza joint (not fancy pizza as it is now), it was a major, major treat the periodic Sundays when my parents decided to pick up Emma’s on the way home from work.

So imagine my disdain when I saw the below thread (start at the bottom):

Now, I know that there are lots of frustrations in the service industry. Or in any job for that matter. Or in life in general. I totally get it. And Emma’s (or more specifically, whoever is the voice of their Twitter account) is pissed that people -– without knowing the full context of what happened -– were jumping on their case. I totally get the frustration in that too.

However, the reality is that particularly when you are in a service industry, you need to act well. Even if you get pissed off. Even if people are, in fact, dumbasses. Because tweets like the above make customers think that if you’re willing to call your customers dumbasses on Twitter then you’re probably also willing to spit in their post-dinner coffee.

I’ve been to Emma’s since it moved to its Kendall location and the food is, in fact, delicious -– a completely different animal than what it was in its Huron Ave. days, but delicious. But it’s tweets like this that will make me choose another pizza location over them in the future. This may seem harsh, but this is the point of social media. Your 140 characters matter. There are many gourmet pizza joints I can choose from so why would I go to the one that projects bad mojo? (And might spit in my coffee.)

Now, I consult professionally on new media outreach and best practices, but because of my nostalgic ties to Emma’s I wanted to offer two pieces of free advice if you are running a business, have a Twitter account, and find yourself face to face with a dumbass:

1. If a customer pisses you off, step back and take a breath. When you log in to Twitter remember that you are presenting your business’s voice. You can be frustrated without being mean; in fact, your customers will empathize and you will probably gain new customers if you show your human side. Instead of: “where in 'substitutions are welcome' does it read it's free? Adding meatballs to a Pressed Veggie Sdwch is nasty and will cost u, dumbass” try: “Am sad that a customer was nasty & made a scene over paying for topping substitutions. What do you think?Express your frustration but engage your customers. Consider whether you’re overreacting. Start a dialog.

2. Repair the damage you’ve done. The dumbass tweets are out there and there's no turning back, but in my opinion all is not lost. Tweet your followers and offer something, for example: “We <3 our customers & do not think you are all dumbasses (per earlier thread)! Enjoy 10% off your order (til 8/31) when you mention Twitter.” Or even a simple apology. Never underestimate the power of admitting mistakes and saying you're sorry.

Now, I actually don’t find myself in the Kendall area that often these days but if Emma’s took action as in #2, I would be more inclined to reverse my current position and visit them in the future. I would even order coffee after dinner.