Happy New Year!

Back in the office I’ve read with great interest the story about a disgruntled customer at Indianapolis’ Kilroy’s on New Year’s Eve. While our team manages social media, it can sometimes be a conundrum how to manage customer comments on social media pages. In this case, neither the customer nor the manager held back in the Facebook dialogue.

I saw and read the post Jan. 1 while skimming my Facebook feed. I thought, “WOW, this gal actually feels ok to go to the Facebook page and rant.” She said they’d spent $700. She claimed the bill was wrong and the waitress was rude when they tried to talk to her about it. The poster claimed someone OD’ed onsite and the people who work at Kilroy’s were more worried about that than making their bill right—especially after spending so much money.

In truth, a woman was having a heart attack and the staff was doing their best to get her emergency assistance. The manager of Kilroy’s posted back a scathing message with some curse words and derogatory phrases about the gal posting the message. The gal pulled her post and Kilroy’s opened a Go Fund Me account to help the woman who had the heart attack with her medical bills. It’s raised $14,000 plus dollars as I write this.

I’m now thinking double WOW. So who’s right? Maybe they both are… a little bit.

A study from professors at the University of Maryland, Carnagie Mellon University and Cheung Kong Grad School of Business in China was published in Marketing Science recently. The study determined that addressing complaints on social media is worthwhile because it can improve the customer relationship outweighing the potential side effect of possible future grievances. OK, so the manager should have responded.

One of the study’s researching professionals says companies should not overreact to negative comments remembering that past responses to complaints can affect how consumers respond in the future. My thought to this statement is… the manager overreacted in his comments going as low as the gal who posted. I’m not thinking I’d like to head to Kilroy’s this weekend. Professional advice… keep it professional but direct.

Perhaps it’s my age or attempt to maintain a professional decorum, I still believe social media is not the place to blast a company, a person and so on. Make a phone call, talk to a manager or write a letter. Not only are you held in a higher regard by the company, often you’ll receive a better response to resolve the problem to ensure it doesn’t occur again.

For years I’ve said, social media is like a large crowded room of people at a party. If you wouldn’t say something on stage in front of them, don’t write it and post it. It’s definitely going to be interesting to watch and see how this impacts other companies’ responses on social media going forward.

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