The Social Media Guide That The Western Co Should Have Read

Good or bad – customers are turning to social media platforms as an avenue to share and review their dining experiences. With 64% of Singaporeans active on social media platforms, your social media crisis management isn’t a question of ‘if’, but when. How would you respond to bad reviews on your restaurant?

In 2016, The Western Co’s fiasco was a prime example of how a restaurant should notbe doing its social media crisis management. Crisis management isn’t about winning, it’s about controlling the damage. With the right ways of handling your social media crisis, you will be able to contain the damage to your brand. Here are 10 tips for managing your crisis on social media, we hope you never need.

1. Don’t blame it on your customers. 

It’s the customer experience that matters the most for your patrons. Don’t attempt to downplay their bad experiences or even to play the blame game as an insinuation that they are the problematic ones. Customers are not obliged to give you business, and they definitely didn’t sign up to receive blame.

2. A digital touchpoint is as important as the real thing.

Customer service is as vital to a restaurant as water is to humans. Restaurants have to be able to extend exceptional service onto a digital platform even without any personal touch. This can be attained through social media interaction. Answering customer queries and replying their feedback are some ways of a good customer service.  After all, your customers expect you to always be there for them, even on a virtual space.

3. Be open to feedback.

Facebook or review portals such as Yelp should be used as a platform to receive customer complaints or feedback. Be open to what customers have to tell you. It’s only through their feedback would you learn about the areas that require improvements.

4. Never underestimate the power of social media. 

Social media has created channels for the public to share their views, thoughts and opinions freely. With the extensive reach social media has, it doesn’t take long for news to spread. Even moreso for negative ones. Andy Wong’s rant of The Western Co on Facebook took less than a day before going viral — 1,000 over shares and reactions!

5. Never delete their comments

Responding to a social media crisis does not equate to deleting angry comments. The deletion of negative comments or feedback from your customers isn’t going help to resolve matters, it will only add fuel to the fire. This would give the public an impression that you are shirking all responsibilities which couldn’t be further from the truth.

6.  Create a pre-crisis plan

Develop a crisis response process to allocate who should be contacted at which stages of the crisis. For instance, in the case of milder crisis scenario, it could be handled by your junior level management with a little guidance on public relations. At the same time, keeping the higher level management updated of the situation and the steps taken to rectify the crisis.

7. Speed of response matters

It’s imperative to always be aware of the social chatter taking place. Anyone can be a subject of a viral post: Andy Wong’s post on The Western Co. It’s necessary to monitor your social media platforms, be it Facebook or Instagram. The earlier it is to discover what the social chatter is about, the faster it is for you to stop it from escalating.

8. Keep your employees Informed

Accurate information has to be communicated throughout restaurant. Brief your employees on the situation so that they are aware of the necessary steps that would be taken. A uniform voice has to be ensured when it comes to addressing any customer complaints.

9. Acknowledge the Issue

Acknowledging the issue at hand should be your first approach to appeasing your customers. Acknowledge that it’s a mistake on your part, to have unfortunately given them such an experience. Be apologetic in your acknowledgement.

10. Your apology matters

Provide a formal and sincere apology to the customer(s) concerned. Let them know the steps you would be taking to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself and how improvements will be made to achieve that. Don’t hesitate to take it offline by reaching out to the affected customer and offer a compensation: free meal for the next visit, a free delivery, etc.

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