It’s been going around for a while, the story about Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique and Bistro’s “epic meltdown on Facebook.” The restaurant, owned by Samy & Amy Bouzaglo, was recently on Gordon Ramsay’s reality show “Kitchen Nightmares”. Samy & Amy were having issues with “online bullies” who they said were saying nasty things about their restaurant, and they wanted British culinary expert Gordon Ramsay to help them tell everyone that the bad reviews online are not true and that they serve good food.
Apparently, their issues were more than just their food—they took tips from their servers, they fired a waitress, and they yelled profanities at customers, all in a day’s work. And Gordon Ramsay, for the first time in the history of Kitchen Nightmares, walked out on them and the entire crew packed up shortly after.
Following these episodes at Kitchen Nightmares, Amy’s Baking Company’s Facebook page got a lot activity, comments from people who’ve seen the show and followed the story online. At the time of this writing, their Facebook page has 90,000+ likes, mostly from people who “only liked the page to follow the train wreck.” You can get a blow-by-blow account of the incident here.
It’s impossible to witness an online commotion this big without learning valuable lessons in social media, customer service, and in life. Forbes listed 6 things, and we thought we’d follow it up with our own take-home:
1. Don’t underestimate the power of social media.
Samy & Amy were obviously clueless about the massive effect of social media in any business or brand. From the moment they mocked “online bullies and haters and bloggers” on national television, they have unknowingly attacked a huge population of netizens who would soon twit or blog about them. And then they made an even bigger mistake by carrying this mockery over to their Facebook page, which turned even more people against them.
Because of these irrational outbursts, both on TV and online, their Facebook page has amassed thousands of comments raging from hate, to disgust, to sincere concern about Amy’s psychological tendencies. Buzzfeed, Mashable, and Huffingtonpost, among other noteworthy news sites, picked up the story and reported the incident as well, labeling it as an “epic meltdown”. As a business, you don’t want to be in the bad side of bloggers and netizens. And you certainly don’t want to be in Buzzfeed, Mashable, and Huffingtonpost for the wrong reasons.
2. Don’t air out your dirty laundry in public.
The reality show is called “Kitchen Nightmares” but these episodes featuring Amy’s Baking Company looked more like a marriage counseling session that went sour. Poor Gordon Ramsay, stuck in the middle of a marital dispute when his job is to help restaurant owners improve their business.
There’s a reason why one’s personal life should be kept personal, especially for business partners who also happen to be personally involved with each other. Revealing too much of your life, your relationship, and your weirdness give the public more things to talk about in a way you don’t want to be talked about.
3. Don’t lose control and involve in a public debate.
Samy & Amy totally lost it, both on TV and online. “You went full retard, man. Don’t go full retard,” says one of the comment posters in their Facebook page. They attacked customers, their employees, they even attacked Gordon Ramsay. Everyone who’s watched their episode in Kitchen Nightmares and followed their outbursts on Facebook will find no reason to side with their arguments.
You cannot retract what you said and clean up after yourself online. Samy & Amy may have deleted their posts, and released a final word—that they were hacked and they’re not the ones who posted those profanities on their FB page—but a lot of people already saw them on TV and the mess they made in Facebook. And some people already screen-capped their FB posts and blogged about them. Too late to take it all back.
4. Don’t be overly sensitive and take feedback personally.
In the words of one of their former employees, Samy & Amy think that “everyone is out to attack them.” Even Gordon Ramsay’s constructive criticisms Amy took as an “attack” to herself as a person. Don’t take negative feedback personally. Instead, take them as an opportunity to improve your business.
The thing is, unless your business is perfect, it’s impossible to not have a partial or negative review online. Unsatisfied customers, in fact, are more likely to say something online than the satisfied ones. So instead of taking these feedbacks personally, and attacking everyone who dares to say anything negative about your business, you should simply be polite, and take these criticisms constructively.
5. Don’t praise yourself.
It’s one thing to market your business, another thing to praise yourself for being so awesome. Let your customers do that. As a business, your job is to be awesome—to provide reliable products and good customer service—so that your customers will tell others that you’re awesome. Let the praises and appreciation come from those who genuinely appreciate and support your business.
6. Finally, don’t be a horrible person.
When one or two people are ganging up on you and saying bad things about you, they’re probably wrong. When you have 1 or 2 negative reviews online, those are probably isolated cases. But when your Facebook wall is suddenly flooded with comments telling you that you’re horrible, and you’re getting one bad review after another in rapid succession, and you find more and more leftover food in your customers’ plates, then there really must be something wrong about you. Have the courage to face criticisms head on and change for the better.
More importantly, treat your workers and colleagues nicely, and treat your customers with even more respect. Generosity and kindness come a long way in any business—if you show others kindness, you’re bound to receive kindness in return.