The power is in the hands of the customers, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent an individual expressing their opinion – other than of course trying to deal with it in the right way. Any kind of post or comment doesn’t just disappear by itself. And as we have seen so many times, one bad story just leads to another because fans start relating to each other. This is what all brands fear in social media.
But what about the good stories? Sometimes we need to turn things around and realise that fans are not just looking to sabotage brands. They also support you, and there’s a reason to why they’re following your actions. Often, we just let the bad things outshine the good things as one negative comment equals the ten positive comments we were just given.
However, there’s reason to be positive because people who love to tell stories, not only tell the bad ones. We love sharing great experiences that we’ve had with friends and family, and it’s important to remember that these stories spread as well.
Great customer services puts Panera on the map
Yesterday, Adweek published an article about how a fan post on Panera’s Facebook page got half a million likes. First of all, Panera Bread describes themselves as follows: “We are bakers of bread. We are fresh from the oven. We are a symbol of warmth and welcome. We are a simple pleasure, honest and genuine. We are a life story told over dinner. We are a long lunch with an old friend. We are your weekday morning ritual. We are the kindest gesture of neighbors. We are home. We are family. We are friends.” And from the story on Adweek, the company seems to live up to their identity.
Last week, a young man in Wilton, N.H., named Brandon Cook posted this sweet story on his Facebook wall about the customer service that he had received at a Panera in Nashua: “My grandmother is passing soon with cancer. I visited her the other day and she was telling me about how she really wanted soup, but not hospital soup because she said it tasted like ‘shit’ she went on about how she really would like some clam chowder from Panera. Unfortunately Panera only sells clam chowder on friday. I called the manager Sue and told them the situation. I wasn’t looking for anything special just a bowl of clam chowder. Without hesitation she said absolutely she would make her some clam chowder. When i went to pick up it up they wound up giving me a box of cookies as well. Its not that big of a deal to most, but to my grandma it meant a lot. I really want to thank Sue and the rest of the staff from Panera just for making my grandmother happy. Thank you so much!” Afterwards, Brandon’s mother Gail reposted her son’s update (slightly edited) on Panera’s Facebook wall that carried along a storm of positive feedback! Since last Wednesday, it has received 500,000 likes and 22,000 comments. And Panera’s wall has been filled with other people thanking the brand for the actions of one store manager.
The reason why this exact case turned into such a storm of positive comments from fans is first of all down to the touching story that many people can relate to. We love to hear these stories, and we express our sympathy and support by passing it on. The second that we like or comment on the post on Panera’s wall, it spreads to our friends who then feel a need to express their compassion as well. Furthermore, hearing this kind of story provides us with a great impression of the brand. Panera shows a very human and humble side of the company based on a simple act of kindness that many brands can learn from. It’s an interesting case that shows how the great stories do travel as fast as the bad ones – and that good customer service definitely pays off in the end.