Reputation, Performance, and Social Media, Oh My!

July 11, 2012 12:12 pm

Whether it’s an individual, a group, or an organization, people generally care about their reputation.  In industry they want to be known as “world class” or “best of the best” or a “leader” in the field.  Organizations know that having a “world class” type of reputation will draw business to them in groves.  Without a good reputation in the market, an organization can be considered doomed to fail.
But what do you do with organizations who are only concerned with performing when their reputation is on the line in a social media forum?  And how do you make sure that isn’t your organization?  Let me provide an example.

I was a consumer recently for a customized product that I ordered for my wedding.  Simply put, I ordered eight items (five of the same of one, and three of another), paid for all eight, and was given a ship date for all eight.  What arrived?  Only the five items.  I called customer service and was told they were from a different vendor and would be shipped that day, to arrive two days later by priority mail.  I was also going to receive email confirmation of all of this.  None of that happened.

I called customer service and was directed to leave messages by their voicemail.  One voicemail greeting even said they were experiencing long hold lines because they were just showcased on a major news TV show.  I emailed and explained the urgency of the situation; the wedding date moving closer with every message.  The voicemail told me that someone would respond in 24 hours.  I was rational, I even shared in one message that I was not angry or interested in yelling, I just wanted my shipment.  In total, I think I left 6 different messages over a 7 day period.

My wedding came and went.  As I was sending thank you notes to all of the vendors who contributed to our wonderful wedding day, a friend called.  She asked if I ever heard back from that particular company, and that she heard of people having success with getting a response when they either tweet or post on Facebook about the organization.  So, that’s what I did.  I went to Facebook and wrote the following on my status, “I am really disappointed in (insert and tag company name here) for providing poor customer service and not delivering my order on time.”

People began to comment; one even recommended that I contact the Better Business Bureau.  Within an hour, my phone rang and it was the owner of the company. She wanted to know what was going on and why I dare injure her reputation online.  I explained the situation, and how her company has not responded to me, nor given me what I paid for.  She didn’t really apologize, and said that the items were shipped.  However, she could not provide a tracking number for them.  She then stated that she would make sure they were shipped today, and asked if I would “un-tag” her business, as she has a reputation to maintain, and my comment was hurting it.  I did receive the items two days later, but I wonder if I would I have ever heard from her if I didn’t comment about the organization on Facebook.

As someone in the “organizational performance” world, this situation immediately angered and saddened me.  Apparently some organizations only perform when there’s a threat of “someone watching” and underperform when no one is.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time nor the energy as a leader to be “watching all the time” to ensure that performance happens.  To ensure performance is happening in the organization, it’s best to grow the cadre of key performers who actually want to do well and are self-driven.  How are you growing those key performers in your organization?  How are you sharing their best in class knowledge with the rest of the workforce to improve the entire workforce population?

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