Remember when you used to be able to get angry, air your opinion, and move on? Not any more.

In today’s fast paced world, if you take action before thinking, you could wind up in a whole lot of trouble very quickly.

As evidenced by a recent breakdown of a Scottsdale, Arizona company.What Not To Do Online Meltdown 101

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The owners of Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro were featured on an episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. The owners were too difficult to work with, so Ramsey dumped them before finishing the process. And that didn’t sit well with the owners. So they took to the online world to air their opinion.

And it quickly blew up into whole lot more.

Yelp reviews skyrocketed, and no one had anything good to say.

Reddit threads monitored the meltdown process.

Facebook reached out to tens of thousands of readers.

And the meltdown went on and on.

The problem with having a meltdown online is it’s there forever. No matter what you do, the meltdown will follow. Especially when it hits you in so many different ways.

People write about it on blogs. They report it on news sites. It circulates again and again. No matter what you do to try and erase the trail, it will exist forever.

Yes, it can quickly be the end of your business. And time will tell whether this company can survive this meltdown.

Yet for every online meltdown we witness, there are lessons to be learned. What can you do to avoid the same situation in your future?

Recognize “Damage Control” Situations

It’s easy to take a look at a situation like the one mentioned above and understand exactly where they went wrong. But can you recognize it in your own business?

No company will ever be completely immune to negative comments and disgruntled customers. There are always people that simply won’t be happy with what you say or do.

Yet the art comes in learning when to stop long before it becomes a problem. You’ve heard the phrase “friends don’t let friends drive drunk”. You may have heard “friends don’t let friends text while drunk (or angry, or emotional, etc)”. The same applies in any online application.

If you have a problem or a response to something negative, put down the phone, turn off the computer, and give yourself time to digest the situation to its fullest.

Ask yourself a series of questions.

  • What would happen if I said this to every customer I have?
  • What could I say to this one customer to defuse the situation?
  • Is saying nothing at all better than antagonizing the situation?
  • How would others feel in this situation?
  • How would I react if I read about this situation online for another company?

The longer you wait before you take action, the more you analyze it in different ways, the less “reaction” you will receive in the process.

Always Respond Appropriately

The first time you type the F word in response to a post, customer or other reviewer, you know you’ve gone waaaayyyy too far. No matter how you really feel, never, ever get into a shouting match online.

You’ll lose.

If you really are bothered by what others are saying, walk around saying and doing whatever you need to do to gain control. Cuss your head off. Scream your lungs out. Punch the pillow on your couch. Do whatever it takes to get out your anger. Just don’t do it online.

Any response you ever give online – ever – should be positive, professional and appropriate. Anything less will only make the situation worse.

Be Ready To React

After you take the time to calm down and look at the situation through different eyes, sit back and observe the behavior. If left unfueled, your customer (or the one that started the online fight) should calm down as well. They won’t go on and on if there isn’t a counterpoint. And with only one side of the story being told, very few people will join in on the argument.

If you aren’t feeding the fire, things should die down quickly.

Then you can start in with damage control.  Look at what caused the situation in the first place. Did an employee misstate information? Did a customer not understand your policies? How can you change the situation? Do employees need further training? Would a FAQ page on your site provide needed content?

Learn from your mistakes and move forward. This too shall die down. Give it time.

Here is the full show :


Fired Amy’s Baking Company Waitress Shares Story on Reddit