Bad reviews on the Facebook pages of F&B establishments aren’t uncommon.
But while many times, it’s an ‘open and shut’ case where one side’s more ‘wrong’ than the other (remember The Western Co.?) a recent kerfuffle has gone far beyond the typical social media shelf life of such incidences.
Citing that the staff had chased customers away with threatening phrases with “I will have to drag you out” and “You need to leave by then”, her review had ignited the ire of the management.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with management coming out to defend staff and their policies, but the situation took a problematic turn because of the choice of words used in the response which weren’t just defensive, but condescending as well.
Soon enough, Chia came out again to give her side of the story, and gave more details on the incident.
This time, Stickies’ CEO Norman Then came out to respond via his personal account, revealing that Chia wasn’t as much of a victim as she claimed to be, having been “rude to [his] staff and backhand [slapped a] tower of uno stacko tiles while stomping off like a child”.
Not just wanting to keep the chaos to the thread, Stickies then published a FB post with the caption “How to deal with difficult customers”, as a documentation of the exchanges between both sides.
By this time, two distinct, and equally strong camps have already emerged – one backing Chia for calling out on the bad service she received, and the other pledging their support for Then’s fierce defence of his staff and establishment.
Aaaaaand…It’s Not Over
Perhaps as her way of trying to nail the coffin shut on the matter, Chia took to social media again yesterday, detailing the incident and reiterating the fact that while she stands by her review of the bar, she apologises if the staff took offence to her POV of the matter.
In response to Then, she felt that while she “[respects] that as the CEO, he feels protective […] it still does not warrant such rude, unprofessional responses”, also alleging that all of this “could be a mere publicity stunt”.
Not wanting to have Chia have the last word, Then took the establishment’s FB page, addressing her comments and also airing the grievances that the F&B industry faces “because of people like Ms. Fawn”.
Admitting that while his response could have been done “with a bit more restraint”, Then reasserts that he “[apologises] for absolutely nothing [and will] stand up for [his] staff any way with the same fervour”.
For now, while an apparent truce has been drawn, it’s uncertain if either side will emerge once again on social media.
The Rise Of The 2 Camps
What’s actually the most interesting part of this scuffle is not the words exchanged, but the birth of the 2 camps, and the reemergence of the longtime debate – “Is the customer always right?”
While Then’s choice of words is definitely uncalled for, many have brought up the fact that Chia was acting self-entitled, completely disregarding the policies that the bar had to adhere to.
Following the war of words, Stickies’ FB page has also gotten an onslaught of polarising 1 and 5-star reviews – the former bringing up how unprofessionally the situation was handled.
In the other camp, reviewers pledged their support for the Stickies team.
Interesting to note though, is that a good number of the reviews were written by those who have not even stepped foot into the establishment, and are merely passing their judgement based off the social media exchange.
Currently, Stickies’ overall rating stands at 3.6 stars, with a majority being 5-star reviews.
A quick count of the reviews written after the incident also reveals that out of the total of 291, around 85% of them were written only after Chia’s review.
A Sticky Situation That Could Have Been Handled Better
If there’s one thing to take out of this, it’s that in the war of social media exchanges, remaining firm in your stance while maintaining some restraint in what you say is crucial – especially if you’ve got more to lose.
For Stickies, while the incident has helped them ‘weed out’ some customers and reinforced the loyalty of their regulars, they have also lost potential customers who might have held a neutral stance initially.
Those who, while agreeing that Chia isn’t completely right, have been put off by the personal attacks dished out by Then in the process.
The situation is one that is, in essence, a ‘he said, she said’ one, but in the quick-to-judge world of social media, perhaps holding back could have benefitted the business more.
And from this recent response from Then to a well-meaning (albeit critical) commenter, it does seem like they’ve gotten the memo.
Featured Image Credit: Chong Yi Sze, Discover SG