It’s been an internet favorite in recent weeks, the epic failure and subsequent social media meltdown of Samy and Amy Bouzaglo. Although the proprietors of the horrifying Arizona restaurant featured on Kitchen Nightmares claim that their social accounts were hacked, no one has bought into that story after America was introduced to their ghastly on-screen interactions and the owners lack of self-awareness and questionable workplace ethics.
Still, the situation presents some opportunity for reflection. IdeaScale talks a lot about customer engagement. Our numerous public communities have engaged millions of people and have helped optimize hundreds of company offerings. No one has a perfect product and everyone can refine. But how do you best engage to make that conversation meaningful or how do you take a challenge to your business and turn it to your advantage?
1. Every Business Depends on Marketing and PR
No matter if you’re a freelance photographer or amateur entymologist, your online presence is your digital handshake and how most customers and partners will get to know you (even on a personal employee level, this is often how you are vetted for a new jobs these days). You can’t be a great proprietor, but a shoddy marketer and still be a success, because a successful business means managing its image online (and offline). And if you’re a reactionary megalomaniac… maybe you should make sure that someone else is doing that work for you. Because it IS a job that a business depends on. Online platforms are one of the ways that this work gets done.
2. Embrace the Groundswell
Maybe you’re disappointed with the power of sites like Yelp, IdeaScale and Reddit. Guess what? Tough noogies. These tools are here to stay and more and more people depend on them to make their buying decisions. Learn how to cater to this crowd – encourage people with great experiences to share them on Yelp, encourage people invested in your business to give great feedback on an IdeaScale community. Cultivate an engaged audience so that they become the leaders of your groundswell.
3. Don’t Respond to Everyone
Look. There are hateful trolls out there. If you respond to them, these commenters will only latch on less to reason and more on irritating you. Identify these commenters by their cruelty, lack of relevance, and often… atrocious grammar.
4. Do Respond
When you get genuine feedback or have thoughtful criticism that you have the power to respond to, do that! Make those changes: add better lighting, develop an iPhone app, enhance your menu with more vegan options, or (FOR CHRIST’S SAKE) give your waitresses their tips. People feel good about businesses that listen and make changes based on those thoughts. And then make sure that those changes are enacted and communicated.
5. Learn How to Listen
Perhaps Amy and Samy’s biggest and most damning mistake was that they couldn’t hear commentary. For every community, there is ALWAYS room for improvement. As they sit across the table from Gordon Ramsay on Kitchen Nightmares and he outlines what is unacceptable about their product and their behavior, they continue to argue that it is delicious and beloved. There is no way to ARGUE for quality, you can only strive for it by listening. That’s the entire ideal that drives the IdeaScale product – quality through ideas for companies that listen.
Want more engagement tips? Download our engagement tip sheet here.
What did you learn from Amy and Samy? What are some of your customer engagement best practices?