Thanks to my lovely fiancée, I am now addicted to a show called Kitchen Nightmares. It’s not Doctor Who or Big Bang Theory, but I still find it quite entertaining.

How it All Started

For those unfamiliar with the show, it follows world-renowned Chef Gordon Ramsay travels across the United States as he works to change the people and practices behind failing restaurants. While I’m not a fan of some of the over-the-top drama, I do enjoy a good success story – and every episode thus far has ended with remarkable success.

Amy's Baking Company - Home of the Latest Social Media MeltdownWell, all except one – Amy’s Baking Company of Scottsdale, Arizona. Owners Samy and Amy enlisted the services of Chef Gordon Ramsay, after receiving several negative reviews via Yelp, believing that the chef would  ”tell them [their] food is good”. When Ramsay told them that their food was indeed quite terrible, they didn’t react well.

During the episode, Samy and Amy yelled at a customer, demanded he pay for food he didn’t receive, physically assault him and then threatened to call the cops on him because he wanted to leave. Samy also admitted that he and his wife confiscated servers’ tips. Ultimately, because Samy and Amy were unwilling to accept reality, Chef Ramsay did something he had never done before.  After five seasons of Kitchen Nightmares, he walked out.

How to Destroy Your Brand’s Image via Social Media

“A restaurant’s reputation can live or die, in seconds, on the internet.”
~Chef Gordon Ramsay

Since this episode aired, the Facebook page and Twitter for Amy’s Baking Company has become a public relations nightmare. We live in a world where information is passed widely, quickly, and efficiently via social media. When people find a story as shocking as this one, it spreads like wildfire. Samy and Amy retaliated, using their Facebook page and Twitter account to post vulgar and obscene comments and threats directed at those who used social media to share their opinions on the company’s food and business practices.

The story of Samy and Amy has become a perfect case study on how to not use social media as a business. Developing personal relationships with customers and spreading positive information are two of the primary benefits of social media for businesses.

Using Social Media to Better Your Business

Complaints on review sites such as Yelp can actually be quite useful. It’s important to see poor reviews as opportunities to develop a relationship with a customer and to improve your business. It’s important to remember that these are not personal attacks. Is your food consistently undercooked? When you receive negative feedback, you can work improve your company’s reputation by asking for more details, thanking customers for bringing problems to your attention, and offering solutions to their problem.

Facebook is also a great place to develop personal relationships with local customers. Small local companies such as Amy’s Baking Company have a unique advantage over larger companies – they have the opportunity to get to know their customers on much more personal levels. This is a difficult task for larger companies to accomplish because there are just too many facets to the business and the owners or CEOs are usually involved with management of the business and removed from most of the market. Facebook can be a great place to excite the community by doing things such as posting personal or company-related details, goofy challenges or memes, or even taking suggestions for what the next weekly special should be. Whatever you decide to do, most important is that your interactions with customers be positive, professional and uplifting.

And whatever you do, don’t swear at them. They don’t like that.

Photo Credit: John Aho via photopin cc

Jamie Bates