My take: Applebee’s service exacerbated by social media missteps
By now you may have already read about an incident over a tipping disagreement at Applebee’s. If not, you can read the article here:
Crap like this happens all the time for three major reasons:
1. Most businesses have crappy employees who care more about themselves than those they are being PAID to serve
2. Most customers care more about themselves than supporting businesses with loyalty
3. Cheap restaurants get caught in the cross hairs of people who shouldn’t be eating out because they are two cheap, and employees who don’t give a rat’s ass about said customers
And incidents happen like this all the time. I’m not going to take sides here, okay, I am. The customer was wrong, and the employee was too. The only potential winner would have been Applebee’s had they not exacerbated the issue by getting so defensive and argumentative on Twitter and Facebook. Read how their social media team’s responses snowballed worse and worse: http://rlstollar.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/applebees-overnight-social-media-meltdown-a-photo-essay/.
This shows you how engaging with people in this manner – specifically defensive, can be counterproductive. It would have been tough for Applebee’s to survive this anyway, but social media speaking, it went worse than it could have. I think most people have very short memories and the bottom line is that most people will be back at Applebees and most of the complainers probably don’t eat their anyway.
1. You need to have a crises plan in place ahead of a crisis.
2. You need to think out a strategy and platform for addressing social during a crisis
3. Be careful defending ground. If you are “right”, your customers (loyal ones) will defend you.