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In social-media age, firms still have control over how they respond to unhappy patrons

THE GLOBE’S editorial on the kerfuffle between a customer and chef that played out on the Facebook page of the restaurant Pigalle concludes that in pre-social media days, the episode would have been handled more gracefully in person (“Avoiding pie fights on Facebook,” Dec. 4).

Although that may be true, yearning for those days amounts to bad business advice.

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We now live in the age of Facebook, where a different set of consumer behaviors is the rule. Business owners need to embrace these behaviors and not long for the days of pre-social media.

Before social media, business owners had the choice to respond graciously and respectfully to customer complaints. Whether a customer complains in person or on Facebook, it’s ultimately up to the business owner — who has the most at stake — to use the complaint as an opportunity to demonstrate how much they value their customers.

As the author of “Facebook Marketing for Dummies,” I often hear concerns that businesses have “lost control” of their brand in the face of public complaints like the rant on Pigalle’s Facebook page. But unhappy customers have always had ways to publicly vent their complaints. And business owners have always had control over how they respond.

John Haydon

Cambridge

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