Doing It Right Via New Social Media — P.F. Changs

PF Changs is on Twitter.

I followed them among a few other companies as an experiment to see if I would be overwhelmed with spammy tweets.  Instead, I got free appetizers and a great dining experience.

After a few tweets sunk into my subconscious, I decided to take Ledcat out to P.F. Changs to test drive our new Warrior discount card.  I refuse to wait 1.5 hours for any restaurant so I called ahead on Thursday to get a reservation and snagged a prime 6:30 hookup which is perfect for us. Feeling smug about my reservsation coup, I did a little tweet about the plan. That prompted me to check P.F. Chang tweets to see if any additional discounts were in the mix.  I found a link to a marketing blog about a P.F. Changs dining experience. She parked, she updated Twitter and she was rewarded within ten minutes.

And you better believe that if someone asked me where they should
have dinner on Cleveland’s east side, P.F. Chang’s would have been my
first response. 

Twitter can be a powerful marketing tool, and while it’s a great way
to push out information, it’s equally, if not more important to monitor
what’s being said about your brand, and engage with customers who are
acting as brand advocates. Their voice can not only be influential to
other consumers, but quality customer service through social media
channels can create a customer for life.

Being mischievous and always willing to go there, I retweeted this link and “wondered aloud” if I would be similarly recognized at the Pittsburgh restaurant.  A few hours later, P.F. Changs direct messaged me on Twitter asking to confirm my registration time and location, then said mysteriously “we'll see you tonight.”  I was intrigued.

We typically have good experiences at this chain.  The service is good, the food is tasty and with no anticipated wait, things boded well.  We weren't disappointed.  The surprise came at the end of the meal when the manager “comped” our appetizer (dumplings) and gave us a card for another free appetizer on a return visit.  That was a pleasant outcome.  We made sure to tip on the pre-comp total and everyone came out a winner.  Plus, we learned from our server that we could make reservations online.

So, P.F. Changs invested about $10 in our visit.  In return, I tweeted (which updated my Facebook status) about their brand name at least 10 times in 72 hours.  I told people we were going there and a FB comment discussion ensued about favorite menu items.  I tweeted when we arrived and what we were planning to order.  I updated when we spotted a table full of lesbians with a baby; lesbian parent friends on FB responded.  And I tweeted about the comp appetizers.  Now I'm blogging.  So hundreds of mentions even if you assume a fraction of my FB friends, twitter followers and blog readers read any of these various things. 

Plus, we have new information that increases the probability we will return more frequently – the option to make online reservations.  We like Changs and it would be on our weekend restaurant rotation more often, especially during the holidays, if it weren't for the long wait.  The appetizer coupon will get us back soon during a shopping trip, but the online reservations might be especially luring (and help me plan) for year round visits. 

My impression of the chain's food and service was pretty positive, but I'm now equally impressed with their social media savvy. I follow a few companies on Twitter with an eye on potential discounts/savings/sales and other special opportunities.  Hoi Polloi is promoting pumpkin smoothies which caught my taste bud attention and ensured I'll be there sometime over the weekend.  Franktuary regularly tweets and has me planning a jaunt downtown just for a dog.  21st Coffee and Aldo are pretty well updated and on my radar if I frequent their neighborhoods. 

This stuff works, folks.  I became FB friends with my all-time favorite server (from Legends of the North Shore) so everytime I see his name, I think about eating there.  Even the horrid little donut shop churns out great status updates that leave me very hungry for donuts.  Note that homophobic blogging more than cancels out any good you accomplish with tasty FB status updates, but the point is … it works.  The donut thing has me thrilled that Dunkin Donuts just opened a new store on Brown's Hill Road in Squirrel Hill/Greenfield.  (Yes, I just now googled “Dunkin Donuts on Twitter” and voila!  There they are!).

It works!

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