Power of Storytelling | Panera communicates with — and gives power to — their people

January 15, 2020


Who would have thought that Panera Bread would be the one to provide an example of storytelling worth celebrating?

This chain of fast-casual bakery-cafe restaurants began in St. Louis as the Saint Louis Bread Company. It’s still known as such within the Greater St. Louis area. But to most of the United States, it’s fondly known as Panera Bread.

Why this winning little storytelling example came to be is also worthy of celebration: french onion soup is back on the menu at Panera. Customers everywhere rejoiced at the news.

But prior to that? Panera’s people were not happy when they learned french onion soup was no longer available at Panera. And they communicated their displeasure on social media. So what did Panera do? They did what any aware, savvy company does in 2020: they responded. On social media.

The following clip is how they responded to their customer base, and it’s through an apology that comes straight from their headquarters in St. Louis. Panera is communicating with their people. They’re saying…

We see you.
We hear you.
Your concerns are valid.
We’re making the proper changes to address your concerns.
We care about you and we want you to come back.

This response video, which clocks in at less than one minute, is a win. Phyllis Smith, who’s come straight from The Office universe and waltzed into Panera’s main office to serve as the company’s social media coordinator, is one reason why. But the good communication, responsiveness, tone, style, and genuine human interaction all catapult this into win territory, too. Naturally, it has gone viral.

There’s nothing like communicating “Yes, we messed up, and we are genuinely sorry” to those who need to hear it, and with humor, at that! Check out the video.

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