Guest column: When worlds collide

Customer experience matters

Dec. 15, 2011

By Mitch Lieberman


I am over 40 years old, but very much the socially connected type. I do not subscribe to Front Porch Forum because I do not appreciate someone else defining the boundaries of my neighborhood, my network or the topic of discussion.

When “The Farmhouse Tap and Grill” (a restaurant in Burlington) did not live up to expectations, I shared my experience with neighbors. The neighbors I speak of are not tied to demographics or a physical location; it is the collisions of online and offline.

With the growing population of patrons who own smart phones, we share, share and share some more. Experience starts before I get to an establishment and ends well after I leave.

In the days before social media, the number of people with whom I shared an experience was limited to in-person contacts. Fast-forward to 2011, and my experiences reach multiple social networks: FourSquare, Yelp, Twitter and Facebook.

When I notice something that needs more attention, I also blog about it. The number of people who read my blog is not huge, but is still between 20- to 100-times larger than pre-social media. There is another element, something I tell my kids when they post anything online: “Google never forgets.” My blog and review are searchable and last longer than in-person conversations.

When The Farm House Tap and Grill opened, I had high hopes. I ended up disappointed. What was, and continues to be more disappointing is the delayed response through e-mail and Twitter. In fairness, I did not try to call.

Eventually, I received the following e-mail response:

“We realize that we did indeed go way past our quote times, that is our fault. I have been in the restaurant business for 12 years now and I too value a good customer service experience, which is what we strive for. I encourage you to come try us again, particularly not on UVM parents weekend when we clearly were overran.”

While there was recognition of an issue, there was no attempt to make it right. I was expecting a little more — maybe an offer of an appetizer on them or something else to show that they care.

On Dec. 5, after posting a review of the restaurant on my blog, I received another response from the restaurant — a very nice one. They offered to send a gift certificate and invited me to speak with them about the use of Twitter.

I still think it should not have taken this long and wonder if the note would have been sent had I not written the post (I will be sure to ask). Social moves fast.

If someone has a bad experience, do what you can to make it right. These things are just so easy. The future is about shared experiences with your neighbor — down the road or across the world.

Mitch Lieberman is a Williston resident and the vice president for Market Strategy.