Are you a glutton for punishment and like being insulted? Then posting negative reviews about Sgambati’s New York Pizza might be for you!
“Hug your haters” is the advice author Jay Baer would have given the New York style pizza place “Sgambati’s”, unfortunately, Mr. Baer never got the chance. The result is the train wreck example of bad customer service that I’m about to share with you. So horrendously bad, it’s hard to look away, almost like bad reality T.V.
Recently, while scrolling away on Facebook, I came across a friend’s negative post about a local pizza restaurant, called “Sgambati’s”. At first glance, it looked like your run of the mill negative review, “upset customer, tags business so people know”, until you clicked on the comments; then it became content gold –unless you’re the owner of Sgambati’s.
In the comments section, a woman named “Felicia” identified herself as the general manager of the store, and instead of addressing the concerns of the customer that just purchased from her business, she precedes to not only talk down to the customer that created the post, but to demean anyone that leaves a negative comment about the business. Not only does “Felicia” use sarcastic and demeaning tones when responding to individuals, she goes so far as to mock one user by replying with a disgusting “joke” that could be deemed graphic and offensive by many.
Why would have Jay Baer told Felicia to “hug her haters”, instead of lashing out and attacking them like she did? According to Mr. Baer, exceptional customer service is vital to the success of businesses, it sets a company apart in a sea of similar products or services, it teaches businesses areas they need to improve on, and it can be an important marketing tool, one which far too many companies are failing to acknowledge. (Baer) According to Hootsuite, a recent survey showed that over a quarter of people polled stated “great customer service” was a motivating factor when it came to recommending a brand online (https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-customer-service/).
With such a large percentage of customers stating great customer service is essential when considering recommendations for brands, it’s obvious why it’s important for companies to pay attention, but in the past customers had limited options when it came to voicing complaints. Today customers have multiple options to voice their concerns, right at the touch of a button, in the palm of their hand, at any time. Often, the most common option is to turn to social media. Which is exactly why it is so vital for businesses to understand how to respond and connect with their customers through social media. Responding irresponsibly and offensively, as this business manager had, can irreparably damage the company’s long-term reputation and their brand. During a social media crisis 28% spread in as little as an hour, while it normally takes a company almost a whole day before they can respond, resulting in a clean-up nightmare (https://www.hootsuite.com/webinars/how-to-manage-social-media-in-pr-crisis). As companies like Taco Bell found out when one of their employees shared pictures of himself licking the tacos, or like the food and drink company Nestle.
In the past the Nestle company faced backlash after posting offensive and sarcastic responses to customers on their fb page (Edify App by Stukent). Sgambati’s made a mistake similar to Nestle, but much more offensively and irresponsibly, the fact they are a smaller business likely saved them from the headache Nestle endured.
How could Sgambati’s rectify the situation? The most obvious and necessary step this company needs to take is to create a social media policy to specifically outline how the company and their employees will conduct themselves online when representing the business online, and a crisis response plan to identify who is responsible during the crisis, and what steps will be taken, as well as any repercussions that may be necessary.
Creating a team of individuals that know how to effectively track and monitor customer complaints and questions in a way that makes them feel seen and heard, while also informing how the company will rectify the situation, and in the event the customer is inaccurate the team will know how to correct and inform in a polite manner. Additionally, the team will understand the importance of authenticity and empathy necessary to maintain customer relationships, they will never sound robotic/scripted, or use a sarcastic or superior tone.
The team will utilize social media analytics to help monitor customers and respond to all customers (both positive and negative) in a timely manner. Furthermore, while the team will work to respond to all customers, they will not argue with the customers and will understand when to step back from the conversation. As stated in chapter 16 of our course book, “after all, crisis management is about damage control, not winning.” (Edify App by Stukent)
Anyone that cares to look over customer reviews on Sgambati’s Facebook page can see that this is not an isolated event, unfortunately there are multiple bad reviews with ill-advised responses from the business. While none of the reviews or responses are quite as horrendous or insulting as the example I shared, it is clear that the company needs to create and implement a social media policy that details what is expected of the company and their employees while speaking on behalf of the business, because I’m sure their business plan does not include alienating their customers by stating they, “look like what happens when Alabama rapes Louisiana”.
Baer, Jay. Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers. Portfolio/Penguin, 2016.