And Emma's Pizza didn't exactly handle it gracefully. Instead, it shot back defensive remarks to the criticism, saying "I'm wondering who asked you how to run my biz anyway," adding "why chime in when you don't know?" and even in its initial apology, continuing to call the customer names in its response. Needless to say, the company's initial reaction wasn't exactly apologetic...or smart.
Complaining about and calling your customers names on a public social platform? Bad. Continuing to dig yourself into a hole afterward? Worse.
It wasn't until today -- 2 days after the initial outburst -- that Emma's Pizza posted a seemingly genuine apology and response to the scandal in 5 sequential tweets.
"dear everyone, sorry to have made such a SM mess of ourselves. i accept full responsibility for choosing my words so poorly and for not...remembering that the people i'm reaching are the ones who i might rub the wrong way. i was just looking for a laugh to wipe away a less...than memorable moment at the store. the last thing i would want to do is to put a bad taste in anyone's mouth, it's the opposite of...what i try my hardest to do for a living. i apologize to the crew for casting a gloomy shadow over what they do for a living too...this has been a humbling experience, and i pledge to use this forum more responsibly and with you all in mind. truly yours, jeff w, owner"
Lessons From Emma's Pizza Twitter Fail
Emma's Pizza did quite a bit wrong here, and there are some very important lessons that marketers can learn from how the situation was handled.
1. Don't Publicly Berate Customers:
Calling your customers names in public, particularly in social media, is just downright stupid. It doesn't matter if the customer deserves it or not, bashing your customers for all to see will make you look unprofessional, rude, and it will cost you business. Negativity spreads like wildfire in social media, so as mom always says, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."
2. Be Careful Who You Put in Charge of Your Social Presence:
It seems hard to believe that the owner of Emma's Pizza, who offered up the genuine apology two days later, was the same person who tweeted the initial offense. Make sure that whoever has access to updating your social media accounts (be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), knows what he/she is doing and how to act in social media. Be careful not to put your public-facing
social media presence
in the hands of someone who shouldn't be trusted with it.
3. If You Do Something Stupid, Apologize Immediately:
Emma's Pizza continued to call its customer names and lash out at others who criticized them for it, even after the initial infraction. If you make the mistake of saying something stupid and it generates negative comments, your very next move should be to apologize.
4. Explain What You'll Do to Fix the Situation:
If I were the owner of Emma's Pizza, instead of just apologizing on behalf of his crew's mistakes, I also would have fired the staff member who posted the tweet and let my followers know that he or she had been let go, emphasizing that Emma's Pizza does not endorse the behavior and that it won't happen again. This would let people know that despite the situation, Emma's Pizza is still dedicated to good customer service and that this was a freak incident.
What are your thoughts on the Emma's Pizza Twitter fail? What other marketing lessons can be learned from it?
Originally published Aug 15, 2011 12:56:00 PM, updated October 20 2016