Thinking & writing about belief, behavior, and change
I read the site frequently and her tips on handling an out of control social media crisis are spot on. But it got me thinking about why so many brands / organizations are caught so unaware by this sort of thing. It’s because they have no idea how their customers/audiences truly feel about them. No one is perfect, and no one expects anyone else to be either. But it is common and understandable to want both acknowledgement/apology when something goes wrong and a plan for how to fix similar situations going forward.
If Applebee’s only problem was that they mishandled firing an employee it probably wouldn’t have turned into such a firestorm. But their larger problem is the impression people already have about them. Terms like “generic” and “boring” “lacking integrity” are widely associated with their brand. Now that’s not to say they couldn’t have gotten a positive response out of the situation. For example, what if they’d said:
“While we can’t condone our employee’s decision in this case, we appreciate all of our team members and we’re looking at this as a chance to re-educate our staff. We also truly appreciate each of our customers, but in all honesty we did find ourselves troubled by the note suggesting that our servers don’t deserve tips. We’ve established tipping at 18% as a reasonable benchmark for larger parties and we believe it’s fair.”
Not much to argue about there. Anyone who disagrees probably isn’t going to engage in a constructive conversation anyway.