Recently I received an email from a client regarding a conversation she had read on Twitter. The conversation took place over several days and was between a local restaurant and a customer. Apparently the individual tweeted the restaurant to let them know that their entire party had gotten sick after eating there the night before. The restaurant responded that they were very sorry and asked the customer to contact the manager. Unfortunately the conversation did not end at this point. The restaurant continued to tweet the customer for several days checking to see if they were ok and if they had followed up with the manager. So you ask, “what’s wrong with this? It’s good customer service.”
It may have been good customer service, but it was not good for the restaurant’s reputation. To continue a conversation online about a negative experience sets the business up for more and more negative impressions with other possible customers, which is not good for a businesses reputation. It is clear that this restaurant did not have any type of protocol or policies regarding how to manage negative issues online. It is also clear that the individual who was tweeting was not a trained marketing and social media professional. A trained community manager would know that it is imperative to take the conversation offline as soon as possible.
Relationships are imperative for businesses to survive and thrive. In the case of a restaurant, food poisoning can damage not only the relationship with the person who was poisoned, but with potential customers who hear about it. When someone tells you on Twitter something negative about your business it is ok to apologize immediately via Twitter (this shows everyone you care), but then take it offline. Get in touch with this customer and make it right. Do not try to resolve the problem online in front of everyone. For tips on managing a business Twitter account come back tomorrow for a new post: Get it right or risk or reputation! 10 tips to Managing Your Business Twitter Account.