Proactive response defuses conflict for Denny's
Continued from page 1
On New Year’s Day at a location in Belleville, Ill., a Denny’s manager asked a customer to leave because she was carrying a gun. The manager did not know the woman was a plainclothes police officer eating with her co-workers, who also were not wearing official police uniforms. Though Denny’s policy allows law enforcement officers to carry weapons in its restaurants, the group of police officers left the store, prompting the police chief to ban his officers from eating at that Denny’s.
News of the incident was reported in the Belleville News-Democrat Jan. 2 and was picked up nationally by Fox News and other outlets. By that evening, people started posting a link to the story in the comments of Denny’s Facebook posts advertising the Hobbit Menu limited-time offer.
On Jan. 3, Denny’s ran a Facebook post that read, “As a company, we are as upset as you about the recent misunderstanding. Denny’s supports local law enforcement and the hard work they do on behalf of all our communities, and we sincerely apologize.” The post garnered more than 1,500 responses.
The next day, the brand posted again saying that the Belleville Police Department had accepted the brand’s apology. About 150 people weighed in on that post. After that, Denny’s volume of comments returned to dozens, not hundreds, of responses, with discussion of gun control dissipating dramatically.
According to TrackingSocial data, Denny’s measure of people talking about its Facebook page was 10,598 on Jan. 3, the day it acknowledged the situation in Illinois. That metric increased 152 percent to 26,801 people on Feb. 4, a month after Denny’s reported that the issue had been resolved.
In an analysis of Denny’s Facebook engagement data, TrackingSocial founder Alex Paley noted that Denny’s week-over-week audience growth maintained pace, dipping only from 0.39 percent to 0.3 percent, which is in line with typical deceleration in the gathering of new likes as a brand switches promotion. In Denny’s case, they moved from promoting the Hobbit Menu to a new program.
In a statement emailed to Nation’s Restaurant News, Spartanburg, S.C.-based Denny’s chief marketing officer Frances Allen said Denny's Facebook response to the story out of Bellville reflected the same kind of quick-response strategy the brand tries to employ with guests in its restaurants.
“When we become aware of a situation related to our brand that is drawing customer feedback, we closely monitor our Facebook page and decide whether a public comment becomes necessary,” Allen wrote. “Facebook is a valuable communications vehicle that allows us to respond directly to the concerns of our guests, and we will use it for that purpose as necessary.”