One employee’s hard lesson about social media and customer relations

Raise your hand if you don’t own a smartphone.

According to this Pew survey, 64% of American adults own smartphones. And that’s just the adults.

So, it should come as no surprise that, in the brief amount of time it takes someone to pull a phone of a pocket, bring it to life, pull up a camera app, and hit record — five seconds maybe — anything you (or your employees) do in public can be stored and shared.

Trouble brewing at a national coffee chain.

That’s exactly what happened last week at a Starbucks in New York last week. NBC4 New York reports here that a national coffee chain store employee was recorded going off…on a customer. Here’s more about the incident from the NBC4 New York report:

Customer Ruby Chen, the main target of the employee’s tirade, complained about the interaction on Starbucks’ Facebook page and posted the video, provided to her by another customer in the store who filmed the entire incident on Tuesday. 

UK’s Daily Mail reports here that, once the store learned about the video, it suspended (and later fired) the employee.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the coffee store remarked that “This customer’s experience is not reflective of the service our partners provide to customers every day. Our leadership team is reaching out to the customer to apologize and make this right.”  The NBC4 New York report indicates that the store’s district manager reached out to the customer to further apologize.

Training tip for your workplace.

Many of your employees interact directly with customers. Logically, they should grasp the ease with which their actions may be recorded and shared. But, be sure to remind them of that, whether as part of your training on social media, respect in the workplace, and cultural sensitivity — or just plain old customer relations.


  • Good Neighbor Steve

    there are 20 gazillion starbucks in the world and a bazillion (yes, “bazillion”) starbucks employee’s. no one is going to think there is “trouble brewing” because of a single incident…obviously, there is policy in place etc.

  • Managing

    Having worked as a cashier during my high school and college days, I know firsthand that you have nice customers and nasty one and vice versa. Sadly, one nasty can overturn thirty “nice” in less than one second flat. I agree that the manager was over the top. However, the video does not start at the beginning of the argument. We don’t know what the trigger was. We don’t know if the customer said something. This video FORCED me remember my cashiering days. Of customers that treated cashiers like a subhuman species not worthy of breathing their air, calling us the vilest of names, we had to take it and smile, and apologize for things we did not do, and not in our control. Very rarely did we have a manager come in and say to these out of control customers, “these are my employees; you will treat them respectfully, and if you don’t like our store, go to another one.” Those managers would agree with the egomaniacal customers.

    If the customer was being treated so rudely, she could have left. If the manager felt the customer
    was being abusive she could have called the police and had the customer removed.

    Here’s the big question, did anyone perform an INVESTIGATION or did you just see the video? (News at 11)