Russell House Tavern and Brasserie JO on Social: “You’re Doing It Right!”

February 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM (Customer Service, Food) (, , , , , )

Newsflash: I love and live on food, and I love and live on social. I hope you were sitting down for that, because I know it’s shocking. So naturally when I find fantastic eateries who are using social media beyond just tweeting what the daily specials are on occasion, I try to make a point of going back… again, and again, and again.

You're doing it wrong failGiven my 160-character background, it’s a sad sight when I see one of my watering holes or favourite brands join Twitter or Facebook and not use it to interact with fans or followers, choosing instead to use social as another one-way push platform. Luckily, I know of two wonderful establishments who do no such thing. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Harvard Square’s Russell House Tavern and Back Bay’s Brasserie JO.

One of my first visits to Russell House Tavern (@RussellHouseTav) was a result of my having a little time to kill and having tweeted with their chef, Michael Scelfo, once or twice previously. As I’m wont to do, I checked in via Foursquare and probably tweeted something about the incredible breadth of the beer list to both RHT and Scelfo. After a brief back and forth on the Twitter Tubes, I had the privilege to meet the chef himself (and sample some delicious sea bass) in-person. I don’t know if it’s just me, but meeting the folks responsible for spoiling my palate has always been a thrill. I’ve only met a handful in Boston, and 1.) it makes me feel important and appreciated, and 2.) I just like knowing the personality that goes into a menu. I’m a people person. What do you expect?

Russell House Tavern downstairs bar Boston CambridgeScelfo is definitely the heart of RHT, but there’s much more that contributes to my love of the place: the layout, the atmosphere, the management, and the bar staff (I’m sure the waitstaff is also wonderful, but I’ve never dined away from the bar). On more recent visits, I’ve met the folks behind the Twitter handle (specifically Tyler Titherington – lovely meeting you!) and learned to trust the beer recommendations from bartenders Adam and Lou (you have to ask because the variety on the menu will, in fact, blow your mind).

I’ve also learned that you can’t lose with anything on the menu, having tried something new every visit and never being disappointed. Recent highlights: beef heart ravioli, burrata salad (the first time I ate my brussel sprouts!), bacon-wrapped paté, foie custard, and ox tongue meatballs. In short, Scelfo can do no wrong. This all said, I don’t think I ever would have visited unprompted if that online rapport wasn’t there, first. I’m not entirely a creature of habit, but I need a reason to try something new: a friend’s recommendation, an event, or even just an invitation to visit from a restaurant’s Twitter account – which leads me to my next social shout-out.

Brasserie JO (@brasseriejo) was actually the first restaurant I visited in Boston several years ago when I was still looking at colleges. Goodness, that was a while ago – so long ago that Twitter was still a lower-cased verb – but it was still a tasty experience (if you’re ever there for brunch, try the chocolate French toast). Fast-forward to when checking in on Foursquare is almost on par with breathing when it comes to my natural instincts. I had just done so at the Prudential Center (check in and, yes, continue breathing) when I received at at-reply from JO, suggesting that I stop in because it came @BostonTweet– and @eric_andersen-recommended – adding an #IWithThatWereTrue tag to signify the jest behind the latter end of the statement. I appreciated the chutzpah, and given that I didn’t have any concrete plans, I decided to oblige and swing in for a beer (and maybe some escargot).

After a few minutes at the bar and feeling a little cheeky, I tweeted back to them saying, “I’m here – where are you?” While whomever was responsible for the Twitter account wasn’t there, he or she did inform management that I was in the house, and I did get to meet some of the kitchen magic as well as one of the managers (sadly this was several months ago, so names have escaped me – this kudos is LONG overdue and I apologise). Oh, and I was also introduced to a divine charcuterie plate, but that relationship didn’t last long – relationships with fine cuisine rarely do.

Thanks to social, I’ve turned into one of those annoying consumers who gets cranky when brands on social don’t interact (see the beginning of this post). When a restaurant invites me in, and then rewards me for doing so, then yes, I’ll be more inclined to return. In fact, I’m pretty sure JO was the restaurant of choice during the following visit from the parentals – and again, one of the managers (I remember that time it was Annmarie Blythe) stopped by to say hello. “Getting a Twitter” just doesn’t cut it for B2C brands. Thankfully there are some great establishments in and around Boston who recognize that, and those of us who live online certainly aren’t going to ignore that when it comes time to make a purchasing decision.

Have you had an amazing experience with a local eatery, thanks to social? Let me know in the comments so I can check it out (let me know where the crappy experiences were so I can avoid those, too).

If You Go…

Russell House Tavern
14 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 500-3055
http://www.russellhousecambridge.com/

Brasserie JO
120 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 425-3240
http://www.brasseriejo.com/

Today’s Tunes
“Delicate,” Damien Rice
“Amie,” Damien Rice
“9 Crimes,” Damien Rice
“Dressed to Kill,” Landon Pigg

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Reblog: Brands on Social Can’t Ignore Social Engagement

January 25, 2012 at 9:00 AM (Customer Service) (, , , , )

This post originally appeared on my agency’s blog, RaceTalk.

A recent compilation of research on eMarketer shared that – surprise! – people don’t like being ignored by brands on social media. I mean, people don’t like being ignored in general, but when it comes to business-to-consumer offenses online, it can have some noteworthy repercussions: research firm Conversocial found that more than a quarter of survey respondents would no longer do business with a brand if their questions went unanswered on Facebook or Twitter. And let’s not forget the ripple effect: only 11.7 percent of survey participants said they wouldn’t care if they saw other user questions ignored online. Almost half said they would be far less likely to buy anything from that brand in the future, and the remainder said they would think twice (but recognized that there are other factors to consider).

eMarketer research

That’s a big angry chunk of the pie. I know that I’ve had both positive and negative experiences with brands on social media that continue to influence my willingness to give them my money. And yes, some of those negative experiences have been when I had a problem and no one on the brand side ever acknowledged it (*cough*cough*Southwest Airlines*cough*cough*). While I’m a huge advocate for brands being on social media, they need to know that “getting a Twitter” just isn’t going to cut it. Once you go social, you need to be social; there’s no private office to hide from customers. While it’s not possible to respond to all feedback, questions and complaints merit timely acknowledgements – even if it’s a request to redirect the conversation to another, more manageable channel. Otherwise, it becomes worse than being on-hold for 20 minutes, because at least there, it’s initially a private frustration – until the angry customer blogs about it later, anyway, but that’s another story.

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Richies Pizza: A Mini Brand Loyalty Case Study

April 6, 2011 at 3:48 AM (Food, Happenings) (, , , , , )

Let me tell you a little story about seizing a sub-ideal moment in customer service and turning that into an opportunity.

I originally found Richies, a pizza (and stuff) place in Washington Square when I was moving to my current apartment. At the time, I was actually hoping to get my first taste of Publick House, but for whatever reason that magical place doesn’t believe in opening its doors during daylight hours.  Oh well.  Anyhoo, desperate for sustenance (moving oodles of possessions up four flights of stairs does that to people), we meandered into Richies.  The food did the job, and the staff was more than welcoming. When a Richies Groupon made its way into Gmail, I was happy to buy two, particularly as I had recently gone cold turkey in my battle with my Dominos addiction.

Fast-forward four months and one of my two Groupons later. Once again, I had no food in my fridge, and needed some dinner on a late Friday night.  Unable to get through on the phone, I figured I’d place an order online. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like I’d be able to use the Groupon online (weird, given it’s an online coupon, but whatever), so I resigned myself for paying full price for my pizza.  After entering my credit card information, a confirmation screen told me I’d get my order in 60-70 minutes. A bit excruciating, but I knew I’d manage.

Fast-forward two hours – and no pizza – later. Cranky and hungry, I went to bed, figuring that the website flubbed and my card wasn’t actually charged.  It was.  A bit crankier, I called Richies tonight to see about remedying the situation. And remedied it was!

I quickly (and politely – always try to be polite!) explained my dilemma. Moments later, not only did Richies promise to refund my card, but when I asked if I could just get my pizza a few days late, i.e., today, they told me “Sure, definitely.” Oh, and it would still be free.

How great is that? No back-talk, an explanation* accompanied by genuine humility, and a speedy recovery.  Had this exchange gone less pleasantly, I probably would have contacted Groupon and asked for a refund on my second (unused) coupon. Instead, I’ve been reminded of the great customer service at Richies, and even after I’ve used my final Groupon, I’ll definitely be calling them back.

*As it turned out, Richies closed early that night, but the website was still operating up until the usual closing time. The restaurant is working on syncing that all up.

Richies
1632 Beacon St.
Brookline, MA 02446
(617) 739-1114

 

Totally Unrelated Shameless Plug
This Thursday, I’ll be interviewing the one and only @BostonTweet for RaceTalk, my agency’s blog. I’ve got a few questions for him, and I’m sure you do, too.  So between now and then, tweet your questions for him using the hashtag #askbostontweet. Thanks!

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