Using social media correctly enables a company to gather opinions from consumers, to shape consumers’ opinion, to share information, and to interact in a way that not only enables their business to grow, but also makes consumers feel that they’ve had a role in helping the business to do so.
However, using social media incorrectly can cause a myriad of problems, not the least of which is the loss of customers and a potential public relations nightmare over which a business will have no control.
Unfortunately a pizzeria owner in Scottsdale Arizona is now learning about this the hard way – though she doesn’t yet seem to be learning the lesson. Below is the story.
As most of you are likely familiar, Yelp is a social media site that enables consumers to provide reviews of businesses they interact with, and to provide opinions about things like customer service, a business’ facility, it’s products and for restaurant’s – ratings on the food that is served, pricing, atmosphere, etc. In recent months the site has garnered a lot of national attention and a significant increase in consumer participation. Many articles have recently been written in national publications and the blogosphere about the need for business owners to be aware of the potential that consumers are rating their business on Yelp and similar sites, and that other consumers are paying attention to these ratings – very close attention. Further, many articles have also been written advising business owners to become familiar with the sites, and to learn how to effectively interact with consumers using them so that any negative situations have the potential of being turned into positive ones.
It appears the previously referred to Scottsdale Arizona restaurant owner hasn’t read the articles, because she did the exact thing that business owners are warned not to do; she took the occasion of a negative review on Yelp, responded very inappropriately to the customer via the site, and now because of the tenor and content of her response, the whole incident has become a media firestorm and a public relations nightmare!
Joel Latondress, the customer, wrote a Yelp review of the pizzeria, Amy’s Baking Company, that indicated dissatisfaction with his experience when eating at the restaurant. When Amy’s Baking Company’s owner responded, she attacked Latondress personally, likening him to a tramp and a loser and telling him to “Do us a favor and keep your ugly face and your ugly opinions to yourself.” Click HERE to read the complete story and see a video by a Phoenix area publication.
Owner Amy is now dealing with the repercussions of that decision. Not only has the incident garnered an incredible amount of national press, but consumers are now responding with extremely negative reactions to Amy’s response to Latondress and vowing to never visit her restaurant. Therefore, one negative review has now lost Amy’s Baking Company thousands of potential customers because of an inappropriate response.
Could this situation have been handled better and received a different result? ABSOLUTELY! If Amy had done her homework and been aware of the appropriate way to use social media (as well as had a bit of common sense), she could have responded to Latondress’ posting with sincere empathy for having provided him with a less than positive experience during his visit. She could have invited him back with a substantial discount, or even for a free meal, to provide the restaurant with an opportunity to change his opinion to a positive one. She could have shown concern that her business did not meet his expectations as a customer, and vowed to improve. At the very least, she could have apologized for his dissatisfaction and asked for an opportunity to change his mind at some future date, expressing her concern as the business owner that all of her customers be left with a positive experience after visiting her facility.
Any of these responses would have resulted in, at the very worst, one negative posting being on the site if Latondress had decided not to enable the restaurant to have another opportunity to change his mind, and that would have been the end of it. Instead, Amy’s owner has taken the negative experience of one customer and turned it in to a nightmare, for herself and her business, one which the whole world is watching.
Let this be a lesson to all business owners, CONSUMERS ARE GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Therefore, do everything you can to insure they have a positive experience to talk about; and if by chance they report a negative experience, use common sense and basic customer service skills to do everything you can to turn that situation into a positive.
Here are 6 tips to avoid ending up like Amy!
- Be nice.
- Don’t get personal.
- Feedback is helpful.
- Keep it short and sweet.
- Thank your reviewers.
- Be a friend, not a salesperson.
What additional tips would you suggest?