Five Lessons Learned From Amy’s Baking Company
By now you are probably very familiar with the shocking, off-the-rails behavior that Scottsdale, AZ-based Amy’s Baking Company unleashed into the public consciousness a few weeks ago. As a small business owner, I was embarassed to read about it – but of course I couldn’t tear myself away as one outrageous action piled onto another.
Here are five basic problems the company was grappling with – problems any small business could encounter – and how to solve them calmly and professionally.
Problem 1: Receving lots of online complaints
Unfortunately, online complaints can be brutal – and even false. First, make sure particularly vicious or false complaints are not spam. If you only have one among a sea of dozens or hundreds of positive complaints, it will stand out as an anomaly.
Second, if complaints share a common theme, ask yourself what you can do to improve that area. Get feedback from your employees as well. Remember, if people didn’t care, they wouldn’t complain.
Problem 2: Yelling at customers
We all have bad days, and we have all had to deal with irate, irrational customers. That’s life. Yelling – especially at the customer – does not solve anything. Put together a guide for your employees on how to handle specific complaints or difficult customers – and always hire customer-focused employees to man the front-of-the-house.
Problem 3: Blaming others
To err is human, to forgive divine.
No matter how egregious the mistake, the professional thing to do is accept fault. Be humble, admit the mistake, and explain the steps you are taking to address or fix it. People will appreciate the honesty and be much more likely to forgive you.
Most importantly, never, ever go negative online – it is a permanent record and it can spread like wildfire. If it’s hard for you to handle negativity, hire a level-headed community manager.
Problem 4: Refusing to listen to expert advice
Change is scary – and radical change is even scarier. If you go through the trouble of bringing in a world-renowned expert to help you improve or turnaround your business, the logical thing to do is listen to him and her and put their suggestions into action. Take the risk that change might be good – and that it might work.
Problem 5: Outright angry, explosive behavior
If one of your employees has frequent, angry outbursts, I doubt you would just ignore it. Is there a medical or personal problem as the root cause? Could they benefit from an anger management class or therapy? If you can, help them get healthy and break the cycle.
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Monika Jansen is a copywriter and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, who tend to be startups and professional service providers. She is a blogger for GrowSmartBiz and the managing editor of UberStories. You can follow her on Twitter (@monikacjansen) or find her on LinkedIn.