The White Moose Café: Winding up customers and gaining worldwide publicity

Conor Clancy

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From their presence on social media, you wouldn’t think that the White Moose Café was a small, 30 seater premises on Dublin’s North Circular Road.

With over 110,000 followers on Facebook, as well as 8,000 on Twitter and tens of thousands on Snapchat, the café has a reach that far exceeds the capital and its surrounding areas.

The café, which is part of the Charleville Lodge Hotel, regularly sees visitors arrive from all over the world because they love the content they have seen on Facebook, Snapchat etc.

A quick look on their Facebook page will be enough to see that although not everyone on there is a supporter of their work, the discussion that is generated as a result is priceless in value for its growth. The comments will tell you that the café’s owner, Paul Stenson, appears to be the living representation of Marmite, in that you either love him or you hate him.

Within seconds of me looking to make contact with Paul, hoping to speak about his approach to customer service and use of social media, a new video was uploaded to the café’s YouTube channel. This would be the first of a new series, entitled ‘How to get worldwide publicity without spending a f**king cent’.

“I’m being asked to talk at many different events regarding our social media presence and how we manage to get worldwide publicity without spending a cent,” Paul opens the video with, before going on in the series to answer pretty much every question I had planned on asking.

“Most businesses want to be nice to everybody. They want to please the whole world; we don’t.

“Whenever you post on social media, the ideal outcome is that 50 percent of people like the post, and that 50 percent of people become offended by the post. The 50/50 split is the ideal.

“If everybody likes a post and nobody hates it or is offended, you have actually failed.”

Most people have been told at one point or another that the customer is always right. Whether it has come from a manager or a customer themselves, this is something that anybody who has worked in retail or hospitality has been told. Paul, much like anybody who had ever actually dealt with customers, disagrees.

“I believe that customers actually kill you. Customers cause stress, stress can kill, therefore customers can kill.

“Do you want your cafe occupied by customers who will kill you? No. Polarise your customer base. It will end up making everyone happy in the end. It will make you live longer.”

So, there you have it. The secret to worldwide recognition for your small, humble business is to spark arguments and not really care too much about the complaints.

Their Snapchat and Facebook accounts are well worth following, and are particularly enjoyable viewing after a frustrating day of biting your tongue working and dealing with the public. Be warned, however, watching and reading Paul’s work will make it all the more difficult to keep quiet the next time you have to handle an unreasonably difficult customer.

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Conor Clancy