This isn’t business. This is personal.
It’s personal because I know the people involved. It’s something that’s happening in my circle, something that’s happened to one of my good friends.
I mean, it is business. I find it professionally fascinating to watch, as an observer, while a company destroys their reputation in real-time.
But I really, really want the company to make it right. I want social justice. I’m making it very clear, here and now, that while this is a case study of sorts, it’s also part of that social justice.
It starts with a friend of mine who, innocently, walked into Nanaimo’s Dream Dress for Less. Now, Dream Dress for Less is an appointment-only store, sort of. Apparently, you can go in and browse, but they only do fittings by appointment.
That’s not apparent, however, unless you check the website first (which many people, like people walking through a mall, might not necessarily do).
I don’t see where it says “appointment only.”
And so it goes, that my friend found herself looking at dresses. She asked to try one on, and was told no. But not kindly. The staff member was rude, to the point where my friend left the store, visibly upset by the experience. This is where things start to go very, very badly for Dream Dress for Less. For anyone reading this, this is a great opportunity to learn exactly what not to do, or how a company destroyed their reputation in seven simple missteps.
Step one: The story begins on Facebook.
The story starts on Facebook, where the family of the individual posted the following.
Trashy Nanaimo retail store pulls a Pretty Woman! Warning Mid Island Folks! Do not support Dream Dress For Less! This snotty store in Nanaimo North Town Centre just sent my sister out of the store in tears because she asked to try a dress on. She didn’t know it was by appointment only, but they could have been kind about it. Then her friend just phoned to complain about the service, and they told her simply to not shop there. I wrote to them to tell them they need to write her an apology, and I haven’t received a reply. Don’t let them get away with this!!!
Social media is great, because it gives people a voice. It also gives companies an opportunity to resolve the situation before things spiral out of control.
Step two: Respond inappropriately to complaints.
After the initial complaint, Dream Dress for Less had an opportunity to make things better. They didn’t though, they decided that this would be a good opportunity to draw their first line in the sand. When a complaint call was made by another friend, she was told in no uncertain terms to “Not shop there.”
Step three: Ignore complaints on Facebook.
The negative comments begin to pile up on the Dream Dress for Less Facebook Page. Dream Dress for Less does nothing about it.
I was going to show a screenshot, but at this point – there are just too many comments on their page for you to appreciate the gravity of the situation. I recommend you just go to their Facebook Page and have a read, it’s a good read.
Step four: Don’t monitor your Google+ and Yelp profiles.
Turns out that Dream Dress for Less has both Google+ and Yelp profiles, though they seem largely unattended. The comments from upset customers start to pile up here as well. This is where things get problematic for any company.
See, Facebook comments can be removed or hidden by the page administrators. But on Google, or Yelp, there’s nowhere to hide. Negative comments start to stack up, and nothing can make them go away. The best thing any business could do at this point would be to start dealing with the problem by responding to all the negativity with contrition, with kindness, with an air towards resolving things in a positive manner.
Step five: Respond poorly again.
After an email was sent, asking for an apology, the owner – Eugene Lyuber – responded, possibly, in the most inappropriate way possible.
The nail in the coffin here? “I feel soory for your future husband.”
I feel sorry for you Eugene. You’ve made things really bad now.
Step six: Respond on Facebook (finally), but do it wrong.
When Dream Dress for Less finally responded on Facebook, they did it in a way that didn’t at all speak to the original complaint. Once again, not understanding the power of social media as a tool for social justice, the staff responded in the most inappropriate way possible.
Names are blurred out to protect individual privacy.
Step seven: Watch your online reputation implode.
Dream Dress for Less chose to draw a line in the sand with aggressive actions, rude responses and a series of social media missteps.
This all happened over the course of maybe two days. It took two days for a business’ reputation to be completely and utterly soured in the community.
Eugene is right, but he’s also wrong. People might vote with their money, but they also vote with their voices. With social media, by liking, by following, by contributing. If you do social media properly, the rewards can be infinite Be rude, be aggressive, and social media will tell that story instead.
Update (Tuesday, February 19th @ 12:13 pm):
Dream Dress for Less has posted a statement on their Facebook Page. I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.
Author: Sean Enns, posted on February 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm, filed under Marketing, Social Media and tagged Dream Dress for Less, Facebook, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.