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Andy’s Answers: Olive Garden’s 5 steps to turn around their social customer service

2 min read

Brands & Campaigns

About a year ago, if you posted a question, complaint or compliment on one of Olive Garden’s social pages, you’d probably be ignored. According to Justin Sikora, Darden director of public relations and social media, it’s not that they didn’t care — just that they weren’t staffed to care.

With a third-party agency creating promotions and campaigns for Olive Garden’s social presence, they were prepared to push messaging, not help customers. In his presentation at’s Member Meeting in Chicago, Justin explains how they turned it around with a six-month program and five steps.

Here are a few big ideas from his case study:

  • Take ownership from marketing and give PR the reins: With the public relations team handling social media, they were able to join the tougher conversations about things like breastfeeding in their restaurants, wage discussions and food preparation — not just promotional details.
  • Bring community management in-house: Justin hired two community managers to join the team. This time, instead of just getting briefs on promotions, these community managers joined brand meetings, built relationships with Olive Garden employees and went into the test kitchens to become a voice for the brand.
  • Make guest relations a big deal: Justin says bringing their guest relations team in early helped the social team understand the nuances of customer service. But he didn’t just ask for their opinion — he let them know social media at Olive Garden couldn’t be successful without guest relations’ skill set.

Watch Justin’s full case study in the video below:

Download slides from the presentation.

See more social media case studies like this from brands like Wells Fargo, Burger King, Toyota, and five more at our Member Meeting in San Francisco this Feb. 4 and 5.