I do not cook. It’s not that I can’t, it’s just that I don’t. Every once in a while I’ll get the whim to throw something together, and it’s pretty good most of the time, but nine times out of ten I would rather just not. Thankfully I have a roommate who enjoys cooking enough to do it for both of us (and trust me, she knows how much I appreciate it!), so I usually don’t starve. But when she’s not around or doesn’t want to cook, my options are to subside off of crackers and popcorn (which I did basically for an entire summer), or to go out.
When I do go out to a restaurant, I almost always check them out on Yelp (and I review them, too) or on their websites first. I like to peruse the menu and think about what I want to eat, see what other people have enjoyed, and if necessary check their hours/location/parking/etc.
So how frustrating is it that, in the year 2012, businesses are still not updating their websites to reflect their current offerings, hours, or any other basic info? It literally baffles me that in this day and age where you can promote your business for essentially nothing via Twitter and Facebook and all of those things, that they would drop the ball on such an easy task.
For example, a while back I arranged to meet a friend downtown for bubble tea. This is some of the best bubble tea ever and the shop is cute and I love it there. She checked online beforehand to make sure they were open after work, because in Calgary loads of places close around 4pm after the downtown core starts emptying out (that is a subject for another rant). So I get in my car, drive for 25 minutes in rush hour, and got there, only to find that they were closed. I was so grumpy that I’d wasted time, gas and excitement about bubble tea – all of which could have been avoided had they updated their website.
Similarly, my best friend does not like sushi. However on my birthday she decided to suck it up and take me out for a sushi lunch because she is a peach and knows I am always craving it. She looked at the menu online in advance, found a few things she wanted to eat, and proceeded to show up at the restaurant only to find that none of those things were on the menu. They’d completely changed it and none of the items she had wanted to try were there. Again, cue the disappointment.
Not every consumer is as anal about this as I am, but honestly – it takes less than ten minutes to update a website to reflect it with accurate information. Here are some things I would like to see on every restaurant’s website:
Your hours of operation.
Your phone number, address, cross streets and information about parking.
An accurate menu as well as any specials that are offered, again making sure they are accurate.
And that’s it. Complicated? Not in the slightest. These are not at all difficult, they are simply neglected out of laziness or failure to recognize how easily this can win or lose you a customer. Again, not all consumers are tech-savvy, but why not take advantage of the ones that are? I’m the first to admit that I’m easily won over and there are businesses that have gained my love primarily because of their internet-savvy ways.
A positive example that doesn’t involve me whatsoever: a group of people I follow on Twitter went out for dinner, and had really crappy service and food. Somebody tweeted that they ordered a pizza that never even arrived. Later they tweeted that they were going somewhere else, and mentioned the name of the place they were going. When they got there, the restaurant had a pizza waiting for this poor hungry guy who’d gone foodless. This place also contacted my friend after she gave them a not-so-hot review on Yelp and apologized, then offered us lunch on the house to give them another chance. The marketing director came over and introduced herself, and made it clear that they weren’t trying to buy her off with freebies but rather standing behind an excellent product that maybe hadn’t been so great the last time. This place also hosts various social media groups and events, which has only furthered their profile as a Calgary mainstay.
Calgary is an excellent city for this – there are loads of businesses that rock the internet and use it to their full potential. These are also the businesses I tend to hear about on the news, in the paper, and when talking with friends. As an average young person with no degree in business and way too much time to spend online, I feel fairly confident in saying that there is a correlation and hopefully other businesses will hop on this gravy train.