Monday, December 3, 2012

We want to talk about it...

The one thing that has hit me in the face more than anything is people's opnion... 

Everyone has one and I guess that makes us different from our monkey-like cousins.  Opinions are great, but in 2012 it is so easy to not only have an opinion; but to share it with the rest of the world in a heartbeat or a click of your finger as the case may be.   The best part about it (so I have found out) is you can have an opinion now days and not have to necessarily own it, back it up or put your face to it - HOW COOL IS THAT?  It seems we are creating a world of people who can share their opinion and then run away before having to answer to it. 

I have sat on this blog for a couple of months wondering if I should publish.  Knowing it would be controversial.  It might be it might not and maybe I have just become completely paranoid, so here goes. 

Recently there has been a lot of talk about social media bullying.  I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I would cop any of that.  I think I am a pretty nice person and I run a business with nothing but good intention.  So let's break it down...

...if you have read my blog from 3 months before I opened Mister Close you would note that I came from a corporate background, wished to "live the dream" and to have a cafe that would do one thing and one thing only "Make people Happy".  I never set out to give my customers a shit experience, give them horrible food/coffee or rude service.  I never invested half my home into a business that would make people so angry at what I have created they would jump online and give me and what I have created a serving.  Don't get me wrong - I get social media, I am a player in social media and I enjoy social media.  In fact I use socail media to communicate with my customers.  However I never realised it was creating a generation of people that use this channel of communication to say what ever they like, let it do whatever damage it needs to do - but then never own the comment.  Kind of like having a one sided conversation or an argument you will always win because no one is there to rebut and if they do you simply don't answer.

Let me just interject my own blog for a second with two important points:
  1. I am by no means suggesting everyone is like this - it has been an overwhelming observation I have made since opening the business, but has occured more recently in a few ways
  2. This blog is purely a vehicle for me to diarise my observations, feelings and thoughts of what it is like changing your entire life's outlook and moving from corporate world to cafe world.  So I am not having a whinge, nor am I being a victim - purely making comment on my observations. 
Ok - so I have laid the ground work (hopefully I am not writing too much like a bowl of spaghetti, which my year 11 English teacher Mrs Tuckerman  dubbed my writing skills as) Mrs Tuckerman - there's a good name for a cafe, but I digress...

I have the upmost respect for most food bloggers.  You know your shit.  You research, you understand the industry, you understand food.  Mostly you go to a venue more than once and cast your blog on your collective experiences.  You also understand that a cafe is a huge moveable part - sometimes you can be struck with a comedy of errors and usually you don't judge on that bad day (because all businesses have them), so you return and give them another go.  Your blogs are informed and you take care.  --- disclosure over---

I love constructive feedback.  In fact I love all feedback I have the opportunity to respond to - the good, the bad, he ugly. It all assists me in running my business to the best level I can.

Trust me - there is nothing more I appreciate and love than someone letting me know their thoughts on an experience they have had at Mister Close.  The biggest gift I can get from a customer apart from a  hug (oh, stop it!) is an email letting me know a negative or a positive.  I am reasonable enough a person to know that no matter how hard my team and I try, that sometimes someone is not going to have the experience we intended.  When I get that email though, it gives me an opportunity to understand what happened.  I can ask questions, I can try to rectify the situation or even give explanation as to why it happened and have a conversation.   Most of all I can give thanks because they took time out of their day to let me know.  Afterall, it is my business, it is my baby and it is what I care most about in the world (apart from my partner, dogs and close family of course...  ahem). 

No one has ever gone into business and especially a hospitality based one wanting to give their customers a really crap time, serve them food that tastes like dirt and make their customers feel like poo.   I am not thin skinned (well, certainly not any more).  Go ahead let your opinion be known - but if you have had such a bad experience then let the cafe or restaurant owner know (like in the old days).  Or if you do wack it on Urbanspoon, Yelp, foursquare, twitter, facebook or the dozens of other platforms out there at least pay us the courtesy that if we question you about it and want more informaion so we can fix the problems - that you answer us.  We can't possibly know what goes on all the time, nor can we be on top of every staff person.  It is all just manners really, or has Social Media successfully ripped those out of society along with communication skills? 

I live by the sword and will die by the sword.  I use social media and so I know the rules that go along with it.   I just want to have an opportunity to have a conversation about it so we can become better.  I think every small business would.  Small being the operative word.  The owner of the place is most likely the person paying the wages, serving behind the counter, doing the social media and working so hard to keep their labour of love going   

No matter what I want every customer to have a great experience.  It mortifies me when they don't. And so the world has once again changed...  I think I now understand.  


  1. Hi Mister Close,

    I certainly get your side of the story and at times I will try and be honest when waiters ask about our dining experience. But sometimes it's hard to be completely honest when you can see the staff are trying really hard to give you a good dining experience and the food is just... not that great.

    I went to a restaurant where I had to fork out $250 each for mediocre food. When they enthusiastically ask you how your dining experience was and which one is your favourite dish, all I can come up with is "Erm... it's different...". What my honest opinion is that I almost cried when I have to hand over my credit card. So I blogged about my experience instead of saying it into their faces... as much as restaurant owners/ waitstaff hate to disappoint customers, sometimes customers hate disappointing restaurant owners/waitstaff too.

    Another incident that made me pretty wary about giving honest opinion to a restaurant owner. One of my friends told me she gave feedback to the restaurant owner when asked how was the food. When she told him it's not that great and why, she got yelled at and the whole table was asked to leave.

    Of course that's an extreme case and I am sure 99% of restaurant owners are not that psycho, but it does make me pause and wonder if I should give my honest opinion when asked.

    All I can hope for is that I am not a troll when I blog but am as honest as possible about how I felt about my experience(although this may include saying stuff like "I felt like crying when I hand over my credit card).

  2. I was only ever a diner up until 18 months ago, so I hear you loud and clear. It is a pity you get that response. Everytime a customer at Mister Close gives negative feedback we have about 4 meetings to work out if anything went wrong. We take everything really seriously. Sometimes shit happens - unfortunately service staff can have bad days, sometimes that curry wasnt cooked the way it should have been. I just want to have the ability to have the conversation. We had an incident a while back that I was unaware of and instead of the person involved approaching me they jumped on FB to urge all and sundry not to visit us. the situation was a complete misunderstanding between my waitress and the party, but I was horified at the bullying I copped and I hadn't even had the opportunity to work out what went wrong and chat about it. So this is my point... social media serves its purpose, but I think if people have a bad experience we should be able to discuss it offline and work out how we can fix the problem or work through their feedback constructively. thanks for your comment.