The internet, one of the greatest tools available for businesses and consumers. However, the internet can also be the most destructive force against your business. This is exactly what happened to Amy’s Baking Company when Kitchen Nightmares, a show that depicts failing restaurants produced by Chef Gordon Ramsay, was aired a few days ago displaying what is considered by many to be heinous acts toward employees and customers. What was on the menu you ask? Kicking customers out when questioning why it takes over an hour to reheat pizza (while still demanding to pay for food they never received), owners stealing tips from their server, deliberately ruining a customers dish because of constructive feedback, false food advertisement, hiring and firing over 100+ employees in the span of a few years and much more. At one point, we read a Yelp review where a woman was refused to be seated in the restaurant because she was in a wheelchair, which is highly illegal.
Originally, Chef Ramsay was called into the restaurant to help Amy’s Baking Company after a virtual battle with a blogger left them with a sour taste in their mouths. However, it wasn’t until Chef Ramsay tasted the food and saw the way the owners ran their business that the image became clear. After a long verbal battle of ego and pride, for the first time in 6 seasons, Chef Ramsay walked away and did not help the business pick up the broken pieces.
This was just the beginning of the virtual wildfire… after the episode aired on May 10th 2013, disgusted viewers took to social media by storm, flooding Amy’s Baking Company’s social media with negative comments, threats and general shock. In less than a day, their Facebook fan page jumped from a few hundred fans to over 55k and not in a good way. In a matter of hours, internet goers revealed bank fraud attached to one of the owners, opened a petition with the Petitions.WhiteHouse.gov (to have Amy Bouzaglo, one of the owners, undergo a psychological evaluation), created a fan page for one of the servers and basically tarnished the little to no reputation the company had online. We won’t even get started on Reddit and Yelp.
Internet reputation management is one of the most underestimated facets of online marketing. Insulting customers, employees, bloggers and social media posters has consequences, very dire consequences. It is important to embrace negative feedback, as a business owner it is the opportunity to improve and create a better product/service. Amy’s Baking Company hired A PR Company called Rose Moser Allyn Public and Online Relations, posts on their Facebook are pouring in as we speak, but no official press release from them in regards to their client.
Moral of the story? Treat your customers and employees with the utmost respect, they are the backbone of your company. Admit when you are wrong and make amends, loyal super fans will do most of your marketing if you play your cards right.
And try not to upset the entire internet community.
Top image source courtesy of http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/this-is-the-most-epic-brand-meltdown-on-facebook-ever
Bottom image taken from Amy’s Baking Company Facebook page.
This article was written by Paula VonKretschmann
Paula is the strategic analyst and logistics force behind Rare Pixel Design. She specializes in metrics tracking efforts, virtual monetization and new media marketing. Paula currently studies Neuropsychology and Human Centered Design at the University of Colorado Denver. In her spare time she enjoys gaming, gardening and the great outdoors.