Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fear of 'What Could Happen'

One of the main reasons why organisations choose not to create an active social media presence stems from fears about what 'could' happen as a result. Concerns regarding potentially damaging customer backlash often deter the organisation from effectively engaging with them; which is unfortunate given that these fears are often unsubstantiated. Admittedly, allowing the customer to record their unfiltered thoughts on the organisation goes against traditional business practice, but then isn't that the point? As the state of the global economy continues to worsen, surely businesses realise the need to step back and to reevaluate the processes and practices that have led us to where we are today?

A Lesson from the Banks
The most obvious example of the need to reject these aging business models is provided by the banks. These institutions typically exemplify the outdated practices discussed above; hardly encouraging considering the number of banks in the UK, and indeed globally, requesting government aid in recent months. Whilst this business model has historically proven successful, recent consumer demands for transparency have slowly caused these practices to become obsolete. As consumer trust in organisations continues to drop, the importance of business transparency becomes increasingly obvious.

Transparency and Trust
Transparent practices are fast becoming integral to business success. As our society becomes increasingly comfortable with 'sharing' the details of our everyday lives, these expectations are transferred to the organisations with which we engage on a daily basis. For those organisations that fail to meet the expectations, suspicions are immediately aroused. Organisations that offer their customers only a limited capacity to question the business will invariably incur diminished levels of trust. Let's face it; for those organisations that have nothing to hide, allowing the customer to voice their thoughts on your policies and practices is unlikely to damage the brand.

What does your Business say about You?
At the end of the day, the opinions voiced are likely to reflect how you conduct your business. If your business discourages input, consumers are likely to question the reasons for this level of perceived secrecy. At the same time, negative comments concerning your business are still likely to appear elsewhere. Alternately, if your business chooses to act transparently, your customers are significantly more likely to respond positively. Who knows, you may even by benefit from the additional insight provided.

As society becomes increasingly open towards sharing, the importance of organisational transparency has become paramount. Don't worry about what 'could' happen by allowing customer feedback. Instead, make sure that you don't neglect your responsibility to your customer.

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