Combating the social mob mentality

, posted: 25-Apr-2012 16:58

For anyone involved in dealing with consumers (as opposed to business-to-business), there's the age old idiom which reads:

For every bad experience a customer has, they will tell ten other people about it. But, for every good experience, they will tell one other person.

Nothing could be more truthful.  Add in the explosive power of social media and bad news travels fast. Real fast.

It's with great interest I've been following the two ladies who were kicked out of Public bar in Wellington. The lesbian couple claim they were asked to leave because of their innocent, public display of affection - Public took exception to their sexual orientation and asked them to leave.  The bar says the couple were behaving inappropriately, and when asked to leave they became aggressive, which is when they were escorted out.  My interest in all of this is I also own a hospitality business, but I'll save the shameless self promotion for another time.

This is your classic David vs Goliath battle; add in the perceived persecution of a minority group, and it makes for a story that sells newspapers.

Social media allows information to quickly spread, and like the times of old, get a whole group of people together, the mob mentality kicks in - automatically we side with the David character of the story, and despise the Goliath, even without knowing the full picture. 

As a business that relies on word-of-mouth, whether online or offline, how do you combat this, even before all the information comes to light? The simple answer is you can't - all you can do is go into damage control and try and minimise the fall-out from it. 

Public has tried that, by inviting the media to review the security footage from that night which they say backs them up (as luck would have it, the ladies were off camera for the incriminating moment).  Rebekah and her partner Jennie have withdrawn their complaint, which adds the assumption of further bullying by this story's antagonist.

In my opinion, Public need to do more.  There have been misunderstandings on both sides of this story, however Public has the most to lose out of this.  Invite the couple back, dinner and drinks on the house with the owner.  The cost to the business will be minimal, but it show goodwill and the fact both parties can move on.

I do sympathise with both here.  With my owner's hat on, we put in endless hours and countless amounts of money, trying to turn our businesses into successes, with all sorts of trials along the way.  My other mindset is that no-one likes to mistreated as a minority, let alone humiliated in a public place.

With my opening quote in mind, even if Public do everything in their power to turn this around, this bad experience will still spread quicker and for longer than any good stuff that comes out of it.

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I'm Nate Dunn, and I work for 3Bit, own Tuihana Cafe, and am a moderator here at Geekzone.

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