A few weeks ago, a man had some beef with Wendy’s, which resulted in a now famous Twitter exchange.
The fast food company posted a photo of someone about to bite into a burger with the caption, “Our beef is too cool to ever be frozen.” Incredulous of this claim, the man (@Thuggy-D) cried bologna, saying, “Y’all know we laugh at your slogan, right? Like you’re really a joke.”
Wendy’s, proud of its unique selling proposition, politely replied: “Sorry to hear that, but you’re wrong. We’ve only ever used fresh beef since we were founded in 1969.”
Thuggy-D didn’t drop his argument, taunting, “So you deliver it raw on a truck?” and “Y’all should just give up. @McDonald’s got you beat with its dope ass breakfast.” To that, Wendy’s delivered a final burn: “You don’t have to bring them into it just because you forgot refrigerators existed for a second there.”
The conversation spurred thousands of retweets and coverage from media outlets all over the country before Thuggy-D deactivated his account and Wendy’s deleted the tweets.
Communication specialists have mixed feelings on how Wendy’s behaved. Some, who stand firm to the maxim “the customer is always right,” called the final tweet inappropriate. Many, though, called it clever. “Thuggy-D was attacking the company’s core business practice, not simply complaining about a stale bun,” said Jason Mudd, CEO of Axia Public Relations, in an article for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. “Wendy’s took a brave step forward in setting the record straight with cheeky, informative responses, and in the process, upheld brand differentiation.”
On the heels of Valentine’s Day, you might have received some criticism —warranted or not. It’s an unfortunate reality when you’re handling massive volume, as well as inexperienced flower shoppers. With that in mind, here are some tips to diffuse negative interactions with customers:
- Monitor your channels. You likely have a favorite social media site. But if you’re always hanging out on Facebook, you could miss customer comments on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Yelp, etc. Make a point to check them all regularly — or set up notifications — so no messages fall through the cracks
- Understand your audience. Are you dealing with a troll or someone who just wasn’t satisfied with a particular shopping experience? You should treat the latter with the utmost sincerity and kindness, making a point to get to the bottom of the problem. In Wendy’s case, Thuggy-D was a bully looking for a fight, so (many would argue) the snarky retort fit the situation. Another option would be to block users who relentlessly attack your brand.
- Take five. You want to acknowledge and respond to comments promptly (it signals your commitment to your customers), but if you’re dealing with a frustrating review, take time to cool down and consider the customer’s perspective before replying.
- Say thanks. You might not mean it — at first — but realize reviewers do a lot of good for your business. They alert you to problems you didn’t know existed, help prospective shoppers make decisions and even improve your search engine optimization. Whether a review is positive or negative, let customers know you appreciate their patronage and the time they took to share their experience, and that you take their feedback seriously.
- Apply a positive spin. Use negative reviews as opportunities to flaunt your commitment to customer satisfaction. Offer further assistance offline to correct mistakes.
- Proofread. Sloppy responses convey carelessness, which gives credence to comments that you screwed up. If spelling and grammar aren’t your strengths, ask a colleague to review before you post.