Protect & Strengthen Your Brand's Online Reputation


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This presentation discusses ways that we at Flagship Restaurant Group protect and strengthen our brands in the online atmosphere. We have broken these strategies down into two categories: Building the Face of your Brand. In other words: establish your brand's personality. And Saving Face When Times Get Rough, which means having a crisis management plan of action ready to do some damage control. Included in this presentation are plenty of anecdotes!

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Protect & Strengthen Your Brand's Online Reputation

  1. 1. Wednesday, April 16, 14
  2. 2. Wednesday, April 16, 14 Hello my name is Megan Longo. I am the marketing director for Flagship Restaurant Group. I am here today with my assistant Jenn Brown, who will be helping me today with this presentation.
  3. 3. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Flagship Restaurant Group is locally owned an operated. We started 12 years ago with our first restaurant, Blue Sushi Sake Grill, which is at the southwest corner of 144th and Maple. We have grown to 3 Blue locations in Omaha, 1 in Fort Worth and 1 in Denver. A location will be opening next month in the Haymarket. We also own Roja Mexican Grill with 2 locations in Omaha. Blatt Beer & table, which is in north downtown Omaha, directly south of TD Ameritrade Park. We will open our 2nd Blatt location out west this Summer. And our last brand is Plank Seafood Provisions, which has been open nearly a year in the Old Market.
  4. 4. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Today we are going to talk about some of the ways that we protect and strengthen our brands on a daily basis. And we have broken these strategies down to two categories: Building the Face of your Brand. In other words establish your brand identity and personality. And Saving Face when times get rough, which means having a crisis management plan of action ready to do some damage control. Our discussion today specifically addresses online activity. If your brands are not active on Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Trip Advisor (if it’s relevant to your business) or even Instagram and Pinterest...It’s time. And just having a profile is not going to cut it. More and more consumers are taking to these sites to discover new brands, talk-up their favorite brands, or... complain about brands. There are many opportunities to reach out to these people and make meaningful connections. So please, do not miss them!
  5. 5. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Our first strategy is to build the face of your brand. Because you cannot “save face” in the case of disaster if you don’t have a face to save!
  6. 6. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Here are 3 ways that you can build the face of your brand. 1. Establish your voice personality (humanize your logo by giving it a voice and personality! 2. Speak their language (understand your audience, and talk like them! 3. Build relationships (and create brand advocates, which are the best kind of customers!)
  7. 7. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Establish a voice personality. Give your logo a voice! Humanize your brand. We will use our Blue voice as the primary example today, because it the most established, and our brand with the most exposure. In the earlier days, Facebook was the place where we really started to experiment with voice. We are still actively engaging on Facebook, but over the past 3 years, that focus has shifted to Twitter.
  8. 8. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: If we had to choose 4 adjectives to describe our Blue’s voice personality; It would be: Clever (or Playful), Enthusiastic, Positive and Generous. And here are examples of each of those.
  9. 9. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: Clever - mention Playful, too. Explain sushi-ologists
  10. 10. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: Clever (sushi-ologists 2 of 2)
  11. 11. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: Enthusiastic. Think happy. Bubbly cheerleader. And it wouldn’t be a tweet from @BlueSushiOmaha without an exclamation point.
  12. 12. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: Positive. No matter the context, we always try to remain positive. Here’s an example of how we reply to negative tweets. (Explain the situation, read the tweet). We’ll have more on combatting negativity later.
  13. 13. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: Generous. Explain Kaitlin Harvey Lincoln tweet
  14. 14. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: So again, our voice personality for Blue is Clever, Enthusiastic, Positive and Generous. (show all the 4 faces)
  15. 15. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: We’ve established our brand voice personality, but we also want to be speaking their language. What this means is to know your audience and find a meaningful and relevant way to communicate with them. Our core Blue demographic is women in their 20s and 30s. But overwhelmingly, the ones we engage with the most are in their 20s, even their early 20s. Here are some examples of how we speak their language. You’ll notice that all of these examples are playful, enthusiastic and positive.
  16. 16. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: guest: “I regret introducing my boyfriend to sushi because he definitely likes Blue more than me. BLUE: “No way. You’re totes prettier.”
  17. 17. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: Reference hit songs. Our favorite play on words is to replace song lyrics with the word Crunchy for our Crunchy Thursday promotion each week. “Crunchy along if you know what happiness is to you!”
  18. 18. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: Quoting pop culture references: “Sushi in the morning, sushi in the evening, sushi at suppertime.”
  19. 19. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: Miley tweet (timely with her concert) “La da di da di, we like to sushi!”
  20. 20. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: Give context of Justin Timberlake concert on Feb 10. “Everyone not going to JT: at least it’s Bachelor Monday, and you can get your Juan Pablo fix! JP can show you a few things about love, too.”
  21. 21. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: To sum up “speaking their language”, If you have an audience like Blue, you are going to be talking to millennials. But you don’t have to be a millennial to speak like one. Spend a bit of time really paying attention to what is happening in mass media. Watch an episdoe of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, or Saturday Night live. Both of those shows will bring you up to speed. Keep your ear open to celebrity gossip and reality TV, listen to top 40 radio once in a while, and more importantly, READ the tweets of those you follow, you’ll be speaking a new language in no time.
  22. 22. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Build Relationships. This is another important piece to building the face of your brand. And the purpose of building relationships is to foster a community of brand advocates. A brand advocate is a fancy term for “loyal customer.” But brand advocates are even better. They are spreading the good word about your goods or services in any way they can, and influencing potential customers. These conversations are happening online, maybe on twitter or their blog, or in general conversation with friends and family.
  23. 23. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Some strategies we recommend for building relationships are: Do your research, Reach out, and Go The Extra Mile. Here are examples.
  24. 24. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: Do your research. Kendra Poteet checked in on FourSquare. We did some research and found out she wasn't from the area, so we welcomed her and asked about her visit. She responded that she will be back next time! (brand voice: enthusiastic, positive)
  25. 25. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Brad Stoneking example (this involved research, reaching out and going the extra mile) (brand voice: positive, generous) Through our keyword monitoring, we also discovered a conversation that was relevant to us. This guy was talking about his quest to quit smoking. He and his wife were putting the money that they would have spend on cigarettes aside. And when they hit their goal, they were going to use the money to get sushi. So after a little bit of research, we found this guy’s mailing address. (It turned out he was friends of a friend of a friend). And we mailed him an encouraging note, with a gift card. Here he tweeted a photo of our card with the tweet “coolest surprise ever”.
  26. 26. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Here’s another example from Denver. We noticed this guy, Ronald had been visiting us quite a bit. So we looked him up on And among the 33 listings for Ronald Lewis in zip code 80202, we found his address based on his proximity to the restaurant, approximate age we guessed him to be and other factors we learned by researching him. For instance, his blog mentioned he used to live in Detroit, which Yellow Pages had listed as previous places this particular guy had lived. So we were pretty sure had our guy. And we surprised him by sending him a $50 gift card.
  27. 27. Wednesday, April 16, 14 JENN: Reach out. When I was at the Job Fair in Lincoln, I recognized the name of one of our Tweeters - @MarinHartfield. I let her know that I recognized her name and was excited to meet her. She later tweeted about our interaction. (brand voice: enthusiastic, positive)
  28. 28. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: We build relationships while maintaining our review sites. We reach out to each and every person who leaves us a review on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Urbanspoon and Google Reviews. We have a response strategy for bad reviews, and a response strategy for good reviews. Our outreach catches people by surprise. And that unexpected touch of correspondence from a brand you didn’t expect to hear back from scores bonus points. In this outreach (whether the review was good or bad), our voice is always positive.
  29. 29. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Go the extra mile. We sell gift cards on our websites, and any customer can go to our site and purchase a gift card. And on the gift card ordering page, we list Jenn’s email address and direct line, so that guest can speak to a “friendly human” if they have questions about our online ordering. Jenn’s our friendly human! Often times people prefer human interaction when they need help. So in this digital age, please make it easy for your customer to talk to a friendly human, if they’d prefer. JENN: A woman called me all frantic about ordering a gift card. The next day was her nephew's birthday, and she was having trouble placing a gift card order online. I provided further instructions, followed up to let her know that her order was completed, and let her know that we would make a special trip to the post office so that he would get the gift card on his actual birthday. (brand voice: enthusiastic, positive, generous)
  30. 30. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: In Denver I noticed a gal was tweeting that she was at our restaurant, but would have rather gone to a competitor in Denver. I wanted to prove to her that we were the better choice, so I offered to send her a gift card if she would agree to come back again to give us another try.
  31. 31. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: So we mailed Mile High Fit Girl a gift card, and a few days later she posted this thank you tweet. Hopefully she will think twice about choosing our competitor for her sushi fix in the future.
  32. 32. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: To sum up our 1st strategy, Building the Face of your brand: establish your voice personality (put a human behind that logo!) speak their language (you don’t have to be a millennial to speak like a millennial), and build relationships (pay attention to your potential brand advocates, they’re just waiting for you to notice them)
  33. 33. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: So we’ve built the face of our brand. We have one more strategy for protecting and strengthening our brands: And that is to Save Face When Times Get Rough.
  34. 34. Wednesday, April 16, 14 Main topic #2: Save Face when Times Get Rough MEGAN: Our next strategy focuses on what to do in negative scenarios, more specifically how to deal with disgruntled customers. In our department, we are faced with small fires every single day. Our restaurants combined serve more than 20,000 people per week, and unfortunately we do make mistakes. Ideally, the restaurant manager will rectify the situation before the guest leaves our restaurant. But that doesn’t always happen, and that’s when we hear from these people, usually in the form of an online complaint. These complaints happen on Twitter, Facebook, or review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor and Urbanspoon. If we are lucky, they’ll find our online comment card and let it all out in the form of a private note. But that doesn’t always happen. We will walk you through a few steps that we take to deal with disgruntled customers.
  35. 35. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Save Face When Times Get Rough These are strategies to quickly recover from small hiccups online. First things first, Apologize. Then Gather More Information so you can figure out where you went wrong and how to improve your employee training and operations. Offer your Customer an Incentive To Return - get them back in for another visit to show them what you’re really made of. Keep In Touch - follow-up on their return visit. And as a result: WIN THEM BACK - and convert them into brand advocates.
  36. 36. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Approach your customer’s complaint immediately with an apology. Saying that you are sorry out of the gates will show the guest that your guard is down and you are willing to hear them out. Saying sorry does not mean that you are accepting blame. It means that you regret that the guest is dissatisfied: An example apology might be "We're so sorry for your disappointing visit.” And a positive spin to add would be: "We appreciate your feedback as it offers us the opportunity to address our shortcomings and improve our service." After this initial apology - try to move that conversation to a private format. This is not a conversation that should happen on their rant they posted on Facebook or Twitter. Please do not reply to a disgruntled guest while in an angry or emotional state. And avoid deleting comments or blocking users. This will not prevent them from raising havoc on other public platforms.
  37. 37. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: When guests post a complaint on Yelp, Trip Advisor or Urbanspoon, our first step is to post a brief apology, and then move that conversation off the public forum to resolve it privately. With want to be brief, but sincere. This serves 2 functions: ONE: so that potential customers skimming our reviews will see that we took action and set out to make it right for the guest. And TWO: we actually do care enough about saving this customer that we want to learn more about their situation, so that we can make it right for them... and as a result, set some changes in motion to improve our operations and training.
  38. 38. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: On social media we reply with our brief apology and a link to our online comment card. More on that comment card in just a second.
  39. 39. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: The next step is to GATHER MORE INFORMATION
  40. 40. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: That online comment card link that we give post on social media takes them to this form on our website. This is just a screen shot of part of the form. With this online form we can gather all kinds of information from the guest, including their name, phone number and email. What location they visited and when. And then, these is a message field with that allows them an unlimited amount of space to tell us every single thing we did wrong. When the guest clicks submit, this comment card goes direct to the GM of that location, and our Director of Operations (who oversees all 9 of our restaurants). These comment cards get high priority, and management will continue that conversation with the guest via email or phone.
  41. 41. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: On Yelp, Trip Advisor and Urbanspoon, Jenn and I will continue the dialogue through a private messaging system on that review website. We remain in close contact with managers to be sure we are reporting correct information to the guest. As an example: a reviewer might complain that our sushi wasn’t the freshest option in town. Or that they are sushi connoisseurs and our sushi is nothing like they’ve had in Japan or California. So within that private conversation, I’m going to repeat my apology that I first posted in the public response. And then I tell that person a bit about our incredibly high standards for quality and freshness. And that we source our fish from the finest seafood purveyors in the world. The same purveyors as the sushi restaurants on the coasts. We are overnighting our fish from Alaska, Japan and Hawaii, to name a few regions. And after I make that little plug of information, I will ask what items they ordered and then assure the guest that we will review our quality reports from the date of their visit to be sure nothing was amiss in our daily protocol. From there, I take that information to our management staff, so they can do their own internal research and follow-up with daily operations.
  42. 42. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: The next step is to OFFER YOUR CUSTOMER AN INCENTIVE TO RETURN
  43. 43. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Thank your customer for the opportunity to improve. And Invite them back. Give them an incentive to give you another try. As a result of the dialogue that happens privately on review sites, or from our online comment cards, we end up sending what we call a “winback” out to the guest, in the mail. Jenn is well- versed in apologizing to our guests. She writes a hand-written note to a guest several times a week on our fancy stationery. Enclosed in that correspondence is the note, a gift card and her business card so the guest has someone to contact.
  44. 44. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: And then, we follow-up after that guest comes back. For us, this is usually a step that seals the deal for our customers. Any company can send you a letter with an apology and a few freebies. But how many actually follow-up after your return visit. This is how we do it. Jenn keeps track of all those gift card numbers that she mails. And each week, she checks our list of “winback gift cards” to see who redeemed one. She can see if that guest returned by tracking the card. She can even pull up the entire ticket from their visit, learning what location they visited, who their server was, where they sat, and what they ordered. This makes follow-up easy. She will then reach out to the guest to inquire about their visit. "Hey John, we noticed that you returned to Blue this weekend. Thanks so much for giving us another try. Saw that you ordered the Itchy Salmon, my fav, what'd you think? Did you have better service this time? We'd love your feedback. If you have an opportunity, please shoot us a note.
  45. 45. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: This program wins hearts. As a result of our outreach, some guests will remove their negative comments or update their reviews. We get comments from people about how impressed they are that we cared to reach out, or even bothered to reply. This approach to customer service will impact brand’s reputation in a positive way.
  46. 46. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Here’s a tweet from a customer who was happy with our outreach after a disappointing experience. She was charged a whole $1 for 1 extra lettuce cup that we shorted her in the first place. As a result of reaching out to her, gathering more information, sending her an incentive to return, and then following up, she was happy with how we handled the mishap. And our service and kitchen staffs learned from the mistake.
  47. 47. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Here’s a tweet from a customer who was happy with our outreach after a disappointing experience. She tweeted a picture of the note Jenn mailed her.
  48. 48. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: Here’s an email Jenn got from a customer. This one happens to be from a bad experience at Plank. “Jenn, I am writing you as I sit in Plank, satisfied and converted... Thank you for the gift card, and thank you for convincing me to come back. I will definately recomennd Plank to my traveling co-workers and future students.” Our response to his bad experience impressed this guy, we established a new relationship with him, and now he is officially a brand advocate.
  49. 49. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: To sum up our 2nd strategy: Save Face When Times Get Rough: apologize to your customer (and then direct the conversation offline), gather more information (and use the blunder as a learning opportunity), Offer your customer an incentive to return (show your customer that you are eager to make it right and win back their business), keep in touch (follow-up with these people, this is often the step that impresses the most) and Win Them Back (with a consistent crisis plan, you will do effective damage control for your brand, and win a few brand advocates along the way.
  50. 50. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: If you take the time to Develop the Face of your Brand and Prepare yourself with a Plan of Action for Negative Scenarios, you will strengthen and protect your online reputation. That’s all we have for you today. Does anyone have any questions?
  51. 51. Wednesday, April 16, 14 MEGAN: We brought gift cards for everyone!