6 steps to take if your company is criticized in a blog post

Dunkin My last blog post recounted a less than desirable experience a colleague and I had at a New York Dunkin' Donuts store.  The manager was an amazing example of what not to do.

When I write about specific brands or experiences I've had, I try very hard to be respectful of the brand and to only call someone out when there's a lesson to be learned.  I never do it out of spite or to cause anyone any trouble.

If the specific name of the company isn't relevant — I might not even mention it.  But when a donut shop that tops the 2010 Customer Loyalty Index delivers abismal service, I'm going to talk about it.

Within 24 hours of my blog post going live, I had a voice mail message from the Director of Customer Relations, Kathy Murphy.  Naturally, I called her back.  We had a very pleasant conversation and I was suitably impressed.

Let's look at all the things Kathy did right…on behalf of her brand.

She was monitoring:  There's no way she could have found out about my blog post without some sort of monitoring tool, like Google Alerts.

She talked to me like a human being, not a corporate drone:  There was no jargon or convoluted language.  She wasn't reading from a script.  She was just very human.

She apologized.  Several times:  She wasn't at the store, so it wasn't her fault.  And I wasn't mad.  To me it was a marketing lesson.  But to her it was a customer who had been exposed to lousy service.  And she genuinely felt badly about that.  If I had been mad, it would have been completely disarming.

She told me what she was going to do with the information:  She made it clear that she was going to share the story with the franchise owner, so he could explore additional training for his manager.

She never chastised me for writing about Dunkin' Donuts or asked me to alter or remove the blog post:  Let's be honest here — no one wants their company to appear in a blog post that calls them out for bad service.  And my blog post really called them out.  So I'm sure it was tempting to ask me to take down the post…or amend it in some way.  But she never even hinted at it.  

She dealt with the issue completely, before offering the goodwill gesture:  Kathy made sure we'd covered it all and that I was content that she'd followed up before she offered to send me some free coffee to apologize.  (There are no Dunkin' Donuts in Iowa, so she couldn't send a gift card).  I didn't need the coffee to feel better about the experience.  Kathy had already accomplished that.  But I am sure that the MMG crew will enjoy the gesture!

The only additional step I would have added is — I would have suggested to Kathy that she jump into the comments on the original post.  She could have started the conversation with me there so the other commenters would have seen it as well.  After all, if I hadn't written this post — you wouldn't have known she had reached out.

But overall, there you have it…an almost picture perfect example of how to respond if your company gets sideways with a blogger, reporter, customer or critic.  Kathy handled the situation with sincerity, a desire to learn from the experience and incredible grace.  Bookmark this post — so you can follow her model if you find yourself in the same boat!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]