3 social customer service lessons from Olive Garden

In just six months, the restaurant chain went from providing no customer service on social media to successfully launching a personable engagement strategy. Here’s how.

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About a year ago, if you posted a question, complaint or compliment on one of Olive Garden’s social media pages, the company probably would have ignored you.

According to Justin Sikora, director of public relations and social media for Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden’s owner), it’s not that Olive Garden didn’t care—it just wasn’t staffed to care.

An agency created promotions and campaigns for Olive Garden’s social media, and its job was to push messages—not help customers.

In his presentation at SocialMedia.org’s Member Meeting in Chicago, Sikora explained how his team turned around Olive Garden’s social media with a six-month program.

Here are a few ideas from his case study:

1. Take social media from marketing and give it to PR.

Once the public relations team took over social media, it could join tougher conversations, like those about breastfeeding in restaurants, about wages and food preparation—not just promotional details.

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