It is becoming more common to see some businesses make a social media faux pas and to suffer for it. Social media is a great way to engage with customers, but it also can lead to trouble. There are many ways this can happen – from having your social media account hijacked or astroturfing comments into a thread on your Facebook page.
However, there are times when the company gets things just right, and we all should try to learn from the experience.
Last week, a woman in Florida went into a Dunkin’ Donuts with her cell phone video camera rolling. She demanded free food because, she alleged, that Dunkin’ Donuts guarantees you will get your next meal free if you are not given a receipt. The woman claimed she got no receipt and was entitled to free food. The woman was quite rude, profane and abusive, and even racist towards the end of the clip. It seemed as if the woman was trying to purposely bait the clerk into a negative response that she would post on Facebook and YouTube.
To the young man’s eternal credit, he was cool, calm and polite. She made absurd demands for large quantities of free food and he did it willingly. At the end, the whole sequence is a major victory for Dunkin’ Donuts, and the woman looks like the bad guy.
So what can small businesses learn here in the social media world? A few things:
- Train your staff: Make certain you have a solid policy for dealing with irrational and angry customers. Make sure every employee knows the policy.
- Give your employees latitude: When you are dealing with a very angry customer, saying ‘the manager will have to okay this first’ is going to make it much worse. You should give your employee the authority to do the right thing on the spot to make the customer happy.
- Solve the problem – now. If you can get a crazy customer out the door relatively happy, it’s worth giving away $20 of product to do it.
- Behave as if the camera is rolling – In this case, it was obvious the camera was on, but you don’t always know for sure if a camera is recording. So always act like it is.
Expect to see social media to continue to evolve and become more and more important to use effectively, even when things go very wrong with a customer.