Warren Buffet said it best, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” And unfortunately, 5 minutes on the Internet is even more damaging when negativity can go viral in a matter of seconds. Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro, a restaurant in Arizona, did not consider how its online reputation can seriously affect its offline reputation. When the company was featured on an episode of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsey, the show’s host, stopped working with them because they were considered too difficult to work with. Publicizing their restaurant on a well-liked (and watched) television show obviously resulted in some negative feedback and comments online.
How do they respond? They take to Facebook in complete outrage and begin a war with commenters, resulting in one of the most damaging ways you can destroy your company image online by lashing out through social media.
Like you can guess, this soon caught the attention of the most popular online publications – Reddit and Buzzfeed published stories about these enraged bakery owners. It was the bakery’s response to the initial negative sentiment online that pushed their story viral. When the episode first aired, only 4 new reviews on Yelp were added, but in less than 24 hours of their Facebook meltdown, more than 800 reviews were posted on Yelp. Note the sarcasm of those with more than one star:
It doesn’t stop there. The company’s page on Google Places went from having only 12 mixed reviews to almost 300 mostly negative reviews. Conversations and poor recommendations on the bakery’s Facebook page started flooding in within seconds of each other. While the Facebook likes increased (pushing them from around 2,000 to over 50,000), the negative sentiment around the brand also increased dramatically. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time this brand has taken negative online comments to the extreme; once the owner verbally attacked someone on Yelp who posted a negative review.
While you as a business owner or marketing/public relations professional know the importance of not reacting too quickly and how ridiculous these responses are, it’s important to mention how important customer service is vital offline and online. Your online reputation should be monitored closely, especially when 80% of global consumers research products online before buying in stores. We also know sometimes your online reputation is not entirely under your control. Sometimes a response is necessary, and the way you craft and deliver a response is instrumental in encouraging positive brand sentiment.