Restaurants Google-Stalking Customers Isn't as Creepy as It Sounds

restaurant mealGoogle-stalking -- the fancy term used to describe obsessively looking on the Internet for any and all information about someone -- is something only a creepy jilted lover does to his ex-girlfriend, right? Well, not exactly. Now, restaurants are getting in on the action.

Some top restaurants are not only building databases of loyal customers to record their likes and dislikes, they're also using Google to look up people who have made a reservation (allegedly) to see if there's anything to glean from their profile or background that would help to prepare for a more enjoyable dining experience.

Of course, many customers are uncomfortable or even outraged that a restaurant would research and record them in this way. But I think it sounds like excellent customer service. Here's why:

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If a restaurant's staff were to Google-stalk me prior to my visit, they would likely discover that I tend to like vintage cocktails and love craft beer and have been known to consume either (and sometimes both!) during a meal out. Should that same restaurant be mixing up an Old-Fashioned (my favorite beverage) at the very same moment as my arrival, I would be absolutely thrilled. And if they were able to remember this preference for my next visit? Even better!

The same thing applies to food. If, for example, a restaurant knows that they'll have a handful of customers they know love sushi as much as I do -- either because they've dined there before and it's recorded in their database or because they obsessively talk about it on Twitter -- they can make sure they have the freshest items available. How can this be a bad thing?

Of course, Google-stalking could get a little dicey for people who wish to dine incognito -- for example, people who may be taking someone other than their spouse out to a romantic dinner. But when it comes right down to it, the restaurants maintain they are doing a simple scan for information about diners' preferences to improve the experience and not an all-out background check to uncover your deepest, darkest food secrets.

Would you be uncomfortable if you found out a restaurant had Googled you?


Image via Cradle of Humankind/Flickr

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