Urbanspoon Empowers Cafes

Like any community Urbanspoon is a vibrant dynamic population of self-moderated people with a common interest. The interest with urbanspoon is food and the value of geographical information about eateries.

With communities all around the world Urbanspoon is here to stay. They won’t go away. They aren’t a problem. They’re your solution! Studying marketing research at Swinburne University in 2001 I would have paid someone for the type of customer feedback that we get freely and from all angles!

Cafes, however, often don’t like urbanspoon in the way Rupert Murdoch doesn’t like the internet. In the way Sony Music didn’t like Napster and nation states don’t like wiki leaks. It empowers people! And in the most dangerous way: it allows them to think and make up their own minds.

The power has moved to the customer. Glory! 10 years ago if the food wasn’t good people would never know (unless of course you were in a small town!) Now most people won’t eat at a place that ranks under 80% likes on Urbanspoon. That’s a good thing. It is empowering for patrons to know what experience they will have before they part with their wallets their appetite and sometimes (unfortunately) their mood.

It is also empowering for the cafe or restaurant if we embrace the community that uses it: your community.

Wouldn’t it be insane to close your cafe to say, all women? Or to shut the doors to all children? Would a restaraunt be intelligent to refuse the money of all businessmen or not accept the patronage of any brunettes? The urbanspoon community is a valuable community of your customers! Don’t lock yourself out of relationship with your community. Engage and intimately.

Here’s the truth: if you’re willing to accept it – If you’re customers aren’t happy with your cafe it’s your fault and you need to change. If 60% of customers like you then 40% had a bad experience. Period.

I’m not taking about the one off negative review by username A17J who has no profile picture and only 1 review (yours!). I’m talking about the real people that stand behind very one of your “likes” and “like-nots”. If 700 people have voted and you have less than 80% likes then overhaul is due.

Here’s what to do:

1) Start a conversation with your customers:

  • Join Twitter, and actually converse with followers.
  • Allow Facebook comments and allow posts by users and embrace and communicate with those who post negatively
  • Reply to negative posts on urbanspoo n
  • 2) Engage with other networks

    Google plus and Foursquare and Instagram and Squidoo are vibrant communities of yes: your customers. Work to please them too.

    3) change your ways.

    If many people are saying that your coffee is slow, then maybe change coffee companies, change your staff, buy a computerised system, get a pre-ordering app from iTunes and so on. Work damn it.

    I hope that helps!

    Urbanspoon, if you’re listening my recommendation is to please Further empower the cafe community (your community) to self moderate. In the way that Facebook allows its users to “flag as inappropriate” please recognise that the cafes are also you’re users. Is a symbiotic relationship that you are being a conduit to. If you allow cafes to be involved in the moderation process you will win them and there hearts and loads of cash.

    Success stories:

    The guys behind Three Bags and Top paddock are hospitality geniuses who operate professionally and with eyes wide open. Years aNd years after their establishments have changed hands and been sold – in some cases 5 or more times – they are still ranked highly on urbanpoon:

    APTE – 75% (500+ votes)
    LIAR – 79% (1000+ votes)
    THREE BAGS – 86% (4000~ votes)
    TWO BIRDS ONE STONE – 83% (1000+ votes)
    TOP PADDOCK – 78% (900+ votes)

    Even with the challenges of high expectations and changing owners these guys set up cafes with a customer focus that rewards with money, and money, and did I say money? Yes, and loyalty.

    My heart is that I hope that cafes realise that their customers are their friends, and their votes are their feelings and that urban spoon is not there to make our life difficult – it is simply another tool to empower us to communicate with our customers.

    2 thoughts on “Urbanspoon Empowers Cafes

    1. Great article Jono. Spot on. Exactly what I have been thinking all week and you have eloquently expressed right here. Being customer centric for a service business is essential for survival and growth.


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